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Friday, March 4, 2016

Former Forming Formlessness

Having been engaged in a practice of discarding things that are not “me”, for quite a while now, I have come to this place, today…

It seems that as we grow up in and learn about, and from, the world we are taught many many things about our “self”. We are told and shown how to be, what to be, effectively who the world thinks we ARE. To the degree that we are accepting of this, or passive in the experience, we absorb this stuff. We begin to identify with it and actually believe it to be true. I may think I AM a computer nerd, or a Dad, or smart, or dumb, or ugly, selfish, fancy…whatever! But, I don’t think we’re any of those things. The more I look at and dismantle patterns in my life, the less I identify with that… That is, the less a part of my IDENTITY they become. I don’t think they are really of my “self”. The deeper into this practice, the more I get the ancient mystics' (and not so ancient scientists') ideas that not only are we in the universe but, it’s in us. That is, that we are It (tut tvam asi; though art that). That our we really are just awash in the worlds and we are inseparable. The more I strip away the more I can feel that. The main barrier to this experience then, is all of this other stuff that we have learned about our “self”, that is our “non-self”… We truly exist fluidly in the universes but, we’ve bolted so much shit on, we can’t even tell. We feel so separate because all the gaudy add-ons are between us and everything and everyone else… We show them ours, they show us theirs, and even as we get closer to one another, in seeming acts of vulnerability (often with the best intentions), they get in the way, these ideas about our “self”. We cannot truly connect because they don’t “fit”. Without them we’d just meld… We’d see that we could never be separate. But, with them, we experience a disconnect that we cannot explain. Because we truly, believe we ARE that crap we’ve picked up. What’s more, as we move through this life, with all of this obscuring our true being, protruding from us in every direction, jutting out from our very souls, not created by it but, affixed and tightly encasing it, we perpetuate the very thing that is keeping us in isolation. We become prickly, and shit sticks to us. The things people think, say, and do around us get hung up on us. We walk through the world like a porcupine, in a yarn factory (or some shit like that). Everything we brush up against becomes ensnared in our facade. What was once our fancy armor becomes a trap that we live in, and set for ourselves, and fall into, over and over again, every day…. But, we are NOT THAT. NONE of it!! The more we see that, the more we clearly connect with our deep self, or lack of self, the less sticky we become; the more fluid. As we live now, less and less of what is not us sticks. Less and less of the things that our senses pick up needs to be consumed into our identity. We have less and less of a need to identify as ANYTHING other than 1. 1 of us, 1 with it all. It takes real courage. We have to get vulnerable. We have to let people see us. It’s scary at first. I was terrified when I started letting it fall away, almost 10 years ago now… But, as we continue to do it, we start to notice how much lighter we feel, how much FREER! In the beginning it is a lot of work (usually) to sort through that stuff. We do inventory and sort through it (we want to keep the good stuff, right!?) LOL!! Ahhhh. Some of it we feel really cool about. But, it’s all rubbish. It gets easier to chisel off big chunks as we go… Huge parts of our old “self” fall away. We get fret less and less about letting them go. It becomes exciting! It becomes natural. I use this analogy a lot but, it's like tying your shoes... At first this shit makes NO sense! You're not sure how to hold the laces... The bunny goes through the what now? You struggle with it, and finally with great concentration and effort, you make a loose little knot, and it's a great success! But, over time, with practice, it becomes completely natural. You don't even THINK about it. You do it in the dark, drunk, and half asleep... It doesn't even cross your mind that you're doing it. There IS no bunny... ((-: It's all like this. All the learning. The practice, the structure, the repetition, until it is none of that... All of what we practice becomes integrated. So, it becomes only a question of what we practice. Lots of this stuff is useful. We don't want to unlearn how to tie our shoes, for example. But, we probably do want to unlearn how to be afraid of other people's views of us. It's good to have skills. Unlearning is a skill. Letting go is a skill. Trusting is a skill. Faith is a skill. Being present... Being vulnerable... Allowing whatever is not "us" fall away... These are the things I'm cultivating. I have forms and practices around them now, that will one day fall away as many of the forms and practice I've used to get to this point have. The paradox, of using the form to achieve the formless, is one of the great gifts. It is yin and yang. The balance of conscious evolution. We focus on it, approach it, and engage it, until we meld with it... That is, until we UNITE with It.

I just realized that this post is alot like that. Started off one way, and went another. I realize these days the the cycles are going all the ways all the time. Some areas I'm integrating/dissolving practices. Others I'm forming and cultivating new ones. So it goes, to Infinity... To Oneness...

So be it.

Peace in. Peace out!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

No Declarations

"Declare nothing."

I have had these words in my head for a week. I know what they mean to me, and I have thought about typing something about it...but, hadn't.

Just now, I pulled out my first Tao te Ching which, our dog devoured the cover of when she was a puppy. I gave it a little love and read this excerpt, describing the appearance of "the old masters", and it spurred me to open the computer (actually, I read the whole verse 15 but, this is the part that lit the fire):

They were careful
as someone crossing an iced-over stream.
Alert as a warrior in enemy territory.
Courteous as a guest.
Fluid as melting ice.
Shapable as a block of wood.
Receptive as a valley.
Clear as a glass of water.

It was the "Courteous as a guest" line that really went *ding*. It all just seems so worthy. So valuable.

I wasn't sure how these things were connected. But, I decided after transcribing that passage to explain no further.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's in There

As I was putting my Son to bed and he was turning my peace-sign pendant over in his fingers, as he usually does, now that he's learned not to tug violently at it, a thought occurred to me. An imagined conversation. I played out the obvious questions he might ask me when he is able.

"What does this mean?"
"It's a symbol for peace."
"What is peace?"

The simple answer came pretty quickly. Then took a second to take hold...

"Peace is the absence of conflict."

I thought about it for a while (I would like to say I meditated on it but, isn't that kind of the same thing? If it's not, I'm not sure the difference. Maybe that will come to me one day too...maybe while I'm meditating...or not.), and it really held true, for me. The notion that really rang, when this thought struck, was the one about peace being within; About peace not being something to attain but, something we innately have. By this definition, it was obvious to me that peace is something we come with; Our natural state. Because, what conflict is there, before we start analyzing? It brought me to the idea about enlightenment being a destructive process. A process of tearing down all of the things we've built up in our minds. All of the conflicts we perceive, and create, in ourselves and in the world, with others. I see how difficult it can be to be at peace with the world, in this context. I see how many things are actually working against us. But, I also understood, on some deeper level than before, that the internal conflict really can be completely done away with. That there is a way to just let there not be internal strife. Now, I'm not saying I have resolved or dissolved all of my internal duals. But, I have experienced peace. The not fighting myself practice continues....

Along these lines, before I started typing, I did some searching of the interwebs, and found a few quotes saying "Peace is NOT the absence of conflict...", it is some more complicated blar blar... So, I started to wonder if I was wrong. I even thought about not typing this. But, I went back to the practice, and re-experienced what I felt when I had this insight. It was real. So, here is this.

It'd been quite a while since I wrote anything. I'm glad I did.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"No Practice Practice" or "Practiceless v. Practice Less"

Today was one of those fluid days. You know those days, where you don't even notice how smoothly everything is going, or how neatly everything is linked together because you are just in it? (At least until you reflect a bit.) Yeah, one of those days.

Today's log looks something like:

530ish: Jog with dog.
730ish: Arrive at work.
1130ish: Lunch with a friend I haven't seen for a while
1230ish: Bumped into another friend, I haven't seen in a while.
1245ish: Jumped into (well in front of) yet another friend I haven't seen in a while.
4ish: Phone call with a loved one I have spoken to for a while.
4:30ish: Dinner with nephew I haven't seen in WAY too long a while.
630ish: Get home to play with Zen while he is in fireball mode.
745ish: Baby bedtime songs and snuggles.
8ish 20 minute sit.
8:41: Typed THIS.

I wrote it like that to give you a sense of how it was for me. Each event in the timeline was just the next thing that happened. It wasn't until I was telling my wife how my day was that I registered a theme, or the seeming serendipity of it all.

I also didn't notice until now - something that I have noticed in the past - that running seems to be a part of my day, on a lot of the days that I am at this level of ease or "connectedness". That was the word I used to describe how I felt to Jane. "I just felt connected today." I think you can see why, looking at the above chronology. But, I didn't even really identify the feeling until I was telling her about it. It was one connection after another.

I wasn't even trying. I wasn't "being mindful" or "setting my intention". I just was wherever I was.

Alarm went off...time to run.

Wished Tony a Facebook "Happy Anniversary! Congrats and Love!"...hey, long time, let's have lunch!

Hug Tony goodbye, turn around to head for the bank..."Whattup Simmer?!"

Keep stepping on my errand, after a chat..."SPRIZE Ethelind!"

My bro, my nephews' call to talk about life changes...

...just happened to have plans with his Son tonight.


I just kept thinking "that was really nice"...all day!

Now I am writing...reConnecting with this practice. Continuing to reConnect with this practice...

I am tempted to produce and describe some thoughts about what this all means (or might mean or my understanding of it); About how practice turns into fluid, intuitive, living. But, I am not going to think much more deeply about it than I have already.

Keep the link.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Desire and Nature


   Just got back from a really nice run. Last year at this time I would have called it a short run, because I was training for a long ass race I didn't end up running, but now this is just a run. I run about 2-4 miles when I run now, I do do it for just for the exercise and enjoyment. I REALLY enjoy it now.

So, I haven't written for a few days. A couple quick notes about that:

  1. I tried a couple times.
  2. Writing near TV is pretty much not writing, for me.
  3. I'm not going to write every day.
  4. Sometimes, when I write it will be gibberish. Pure nonsense.
  5. I just needed a 5 to round out the list. Like how you never have an even number of flowers in a bouquet.
Some days are busy, others are full. Not many of mine are neither. Today was full!  Worked a full day, came home and mowed the lawn, ate dinner while working from home some more and playing with Zen, took the little Fyahball for an evening walk over the bridge to see the lake, read him a couple stories and put him to bed, rocking and singing.  Then I went for a run. Here's that story...

"Are you going to go all frolicky style?" says her Wifeness.
"We'll see how I feel." says I.

Sometimes, since abandoning regimented training, while running around (going to 'run around' always sounds more fun than going 'for a run', and I like stuff to be more fun, so I say it in a more fun way) I will jump on stuff, and balance on things, and stop and gawk and just generally gallivant about the place. (See doesn't that sound fun?!) I don't always, but sometimes I do. Sometimes I just run around.  I never really know. I also am not too sure how far or exactly where any more. I have a general idea when I set out but, I will let shiny things draw my eye. Like different paths, or water, or trees, or critters, or just a gut feeling.

I ran a familiar route tonight. Felt good right away. It was so so nice out! I love not living in Uptown on days like this. The lakes are ridiculously crowded. There's something to be said for that too but, it doesn't jibe with a relaxing run, for me. I left home and ran around a small pond, where there must have been thousands of crickets and who knows how many frogs chirping away. It was getting to be dusk, so they were really going!  I skirted the trail and ran over to a little nature center nearby. I ended up taking the short trail around the grounds. The short trail's less than a mile and has a floating bridge across the lake there.  I did do a little hopping and balancing but, that wasn't the inspiring part.

Whenever I cross the floating bridge, on a run, I do a little Tai Chi walking. See, the floating bridge is hard to run on. You might think it would be nice and soft but, it's not soft like a padded mat. It just keeps giving, then returns in a whole different rhythm than I generally run. So, the first time, I went and tried to run across, it was like running on Jello. It really didn't work. So I started the walking. I am a very novice Tai Chi student so, I can use all the practice I can get. Plus, in addition to being meditative, and a nice break from the cardio, I discovered another benefit: enhanced balance! While the trails were icy this Spring, I went for a run over there, and sort of slipped and slid my way to the bridge. After Tai Chi walking for the last couple of panels of bridge, I ran much more steadily, the rest of the lap.

Today, as I approached the bridge, I was taking in the surroundings. Tall reeds. Calm water. More chirping bugs and frogs. A beaver streaming by. The wild life there is not completely wild but, not completely trusting, like city park critters, either. So, they disperse when I come running up the path. A story came to mind of a man (I want to say a monk but, I don't remember the origin of the story) who was so at peace with his own nature, and the the whole of nature, that truly wild animals would note flee when he was near (deer is what came to mind from the story; now that I'm typing this it might actually have been Buddha. LOL.) I wanted to be that at peace with the beaver that just swam by, and the ducks that were hustling off in the brush. But, I realized too that that desire, to be at peace was by it's very name (desire) a barrier to that type of experience. I laughed at that to, and just went back to enjoying the place, as I approached the bridge and slowed to a walk.

I stepped from land onto the first section of bridge, slanting down to the second (and first floating) section. Just over the joint between the 2 pieces, I stood and bowed, as we customarily do to open a Tai Chi form. As I came up from a deep bow, the critters seemed to crescendo and chirped in different way and at a different pitch for just a moment.  I couldn't help but laugh again. I began to slowly walk. Usually I just do legs. Just Tai Chi walk, paying close attention to where my weight is, how my feet and body are aligned, and where my energy is. But, tonight I did arms too. At first, I couldn't really keep them straight and did a combination of 2 different moves (Parting Wild Horse's Mane and Brush Knee). After 4 or 5 steps, I settled into the Horse's Mane, and did that for a few more panels of bridge. This is a long bridge (maybe even longer than this blog post) so, I usually do a little walking at the beginning and a little walking at the end.

This was when it got really fun. Based on my previous grounding, and balance enhancing experience with this bridge walking practice, I thought I would try to jog part of it tonight. Here, something else came to mind, which is maybe too much of a tangent to go to much into but, hey that's kind of how I do....OK, briefly: I have been reading about photography as a contemplative practice, and the notion of receiving photos rather than taking them, resonates deeply with me. I thought of that in conjunction with my decision to jog. I thought, I would pay attention to the bridge, and the way it was behaving under my feet. Rather than running, the way I do on land, and dismissing the bridge as problematic, I would just run and pay attention to what the bridge was telling me. I would receive the bridge. At first I had a similar sensation as first attempt. Finding a rhythm wasn't as easy as just running at a steady pace. The bridge would dunk, under my footfalls, and not return in time for the next foot but, rather mid stride about 1 and a half steps later. Gradually, I began to wait for the bridges return, to put my foot down. At first it was a really awkward run , as I had started with a heavy foot and I had to wait at irregular intervals for the bridge's buoyancy to return it to level. But, as I got the hang of it, we did fall into rhythm. The bridge and I did. The water, and the bridge and I were all in step. It was such a cool sensation. I felt like I was running on the water! My gait was shorter and a little bouncier than usual, but, it was what was agreed upon. At each at each peak of the bridges bounce, the ball of my foot would strike and the bridge would go just slightly back down. It was like running across turtle shells in a cartoon! "So fucking cool!" I thought, as I stopped tip-toeing across the lake, in time to save myself a few panels to walk, before shore.

I looked back and saw the waves that the bridge, the water and I had created. Rows of them, they HAD to be...equidistant, radiating out from the bridge on both sides. Smiling like a goof now.  I turned, and stepped on a seam of a 2 bridge pieces, bowed, and began my slow, mindful walking. As I did, I noticed a (different?) beaver, swimming toward the end of the bridge where I was headed. I kept walking. I think I did 3 or 4 panels, which is probably 10-15 steps. I stopped just before the bridge-to-land gapper, and just as I was coming out of slow motion, the beaver, who had been just floating at the edge of the bridge, splashed and went under water. For a second there, I had forgotten the desir to be connected, and I was. The whole place popped to life even more vividly! So much sound. So many more creatures! There were frogs all along the path, on this side of the lake which, I had to watch for, and a turtle, and more birds, and the rise and fall of the frogs' and crickets' song. But, to tell the whole story, at this point, having come out of that place, I couldn't wait to write about it! I went back and forth the rest of the way home thinking about what I would type, and reminding myself to just run. I enjoyed that too. Inspiration is a great feeling. I was reminded of an aphorism on the way back, about not being any more excited at the last step of the journey than the first, and really tried to find that middle way. 

Practice is fun. Toady was full.

By the way, I didn't type anything I thought I might...ha.


Friday, April 27, 2012


I said I would write something. Today, I am practicing doing what needs to be done. Instead of writing at 9, which I am already really enjoying, I continued to work. These late hours are part of the job sometimes. Now, it's time for a movie with my partner. Which, is also more important, and ties into the previous post about flexibility. I suppose I could have just not written anything but, hey maybe next time. We'll see. I am certainly interested to see how this practice develops.

I will share these lines, I read today, before logging off: "And so, dear friend, if you find yourself judging anyone these days, including yourself, chill. It's a total waste of time — especially when you could be enjoying the very thing you were born for.

" [source]