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Talking with friend…

In a conversation with a friend this morning I found myself in the usual position of offering my take on an observation about daily life, and realizing simultaneously, that I was actually talking to myself. I was saying something about the resolutions we all make to change some aspect of our life, in this case regarding an over-all plan for directional change; I realized what I was offering was advice that I would do well to apply to myself. And, the advice I was offering was eminently do-able.

Start by changing my big plan into a little plan that I can do now.

If I want to explore the potentials that my current ideas are pointing out to me, then why don’t I start by taking the time right now, to arrange a moment today, for me to sit down and compose myself and try to gather inward and be still enough to see, if I can state the situation, problem or hope in the form of a question. The simpler the better.

It seems paramount to first ask. Why? What is my motive?

That is a complex question and needs to be addressed as to why am I engaged in a process to make myself feel better? Isn’t all desire for change based on dissatisfaction with the current moment of state of affairs, health, wealth, etc?

In that frame of exploration I put into motion a process that tends more towards awareness than mere satisfaction, or the old standby of change-for-the sake-of-change. Just sitting still regularly gives us about all we can handle regarding the unrelenting and sometime torrential fact of everything changing, even when we least want it too.

Yes, we end up in deep territory when we openly explore our wanting something that’s better than what we have; and we can also end up in new territory where we can see further and clearer than ever before.

Not a bad spot to be in if we want to explore our future plans, hopes and designs from a more realistic and truer place.

So, slowing down and examining our present seems a sound foundation for looking towards the future, which we can’t examine as such, yet a sense of our truer place in the wider array of things seems helpful and somewhat practical and difficult.

Going carefully means also knowing where we’ve been and not being stuck there.

If I do not know where

I have been there is no

Way to know where I

Am going. Nor the

Reason why.

The path I am on

Does provide a clue,

Going slowly and

Seeing where I step,

A path is just a Way

With a Where and Why?

A process, not Event.

This. Here. Now…what?

An interesting couple of months for me with my time and how I choose to spend it.

A steady gathering in of various fragments of my self that seem to be the most persistent and need help and attentiveness that only I can give.

Care fully. Care less.

Care Fully. Caring less.

Carefully and careless are two words that could be used in the place of some other “opposites” that can be troublesome when seen through stand-alone observations about the basic natures of perception, being, doing and all activities that set things or processes into motion.

Some things are set into motion that result in largely good/positive outcomes and some other combinations of things may result in bad/negative outcomes. The original intention may not provide the desired effect.

To be careful is a deliberate act (or refraining) that partakes of intention, will, willingness and effort to accomplish helpful tending towards the good, but not necessarily so, results.

To be careless is to be generally unaware or un-concerned as to results of activities or intentions tending towards obstacle creation, intention sidetracked or needful things undone; but not necessarily so.

‘Good’ can be readily associated with being careful and ‘Not-So-Good’ can readily be seen as the result of being careless.

What I prefer in this way of looking at Good and Not-Good is that both ways of stating these outcomes, or conditions, tend to describe the results of action, doing or setting into motion, i.e. choices made before acting.

Karma is also the word used for setting anything into motion. Whatever the intention, the results may vary, and those results may leave vestiges, residues, a fragrance, or stink, behind that will be felt, seen, smelled, incorporated or appear later elsewhere; as feelings or tendencies in other beings, situations or forms (lives).

So, being careful has far reaching consequences from a spiritual and practical point of view, and conversely being careless is a main contributor to all the variety of feelings and situations we experience as humans. We do have choices, although we may not be aware of them and don’t even know we are being careless.

I’ve become more aware of these choices as part of my aging process and have reconstituted a simple method of bringing myself to awareness during the day or night, as needed or just when I remember to do it, It’s never out of place or time. These are the four words I’m currently finding vey helpful.

This! As I sit or want to collect myself a bit I say (inwardly usually) this word to remind me of my body, my mind, my ability to look and see myself and to increase my awareness of my place in the world of things.

Here! The place or situation of where This is and the setting and feelings and availability of choices that This has.

Now! A sense of being in the ever-changing flow of space and time, and that the flow of it all is the only thing that matters. This, can’t stay Here, or Now.

What? Is this activity. What is good to know. What is good to do.

I am willing

Please help

Me to see

That there Is

A way at my

Feet in all

Directions.

a strategic withdrawal…

I yelled at some poor dithering and confused old coot to ‘Shut the fuck up and sit down!”, at a noon meeting I go to. He was interrupting my flow of wisdom as I was sharing on a topic which I can’t remember, but was probably something like “Peace and Ease Within”. It didn’t feel good to do something like that to someone else who is trying to stay sober and has long-term sobriety and is just another old guy at the meetings who is starting to unravel a bit at the ends. Like certain parties of the first part.

So, I needed some spiritual belt-tightening; I’ve had other signs of that need in the previously, yet decided I could coast my way through; i.e. neglect the basics and presume achievement. Yay! Verily what mortal Schnooks and Schmoes we be!

So, I went to the Monastery where I took my ordination as a lay Buddhist thirty years ago and the Sangha within which I’d been training in Soto Zen for a bit longer than that.

Refuge. The Three Refuges of The Buddha, The Dharma and The Sangha.

12 Steps and Zen, a combination I’ve been practicing in tandem and am deeply grateful for. Still, I forget. I misplace, neglect and presume, and then, I suffer and cause others discomfort and suffering. At some point, usually sooner than later, I get back to the basics and find my real way back again. To the person that wants to change for the benefit of all beings, that wants to help, not improve, rather than hinder or bind.

I drove through the gates and joined the community of Monks for two weeks as a visitor and worked, ate, slept and meditated and participated in all activities according to the daily schedule. Reciting and doing the ceremonies and recitations that go back 2,500 years to the time of the Buddha. Watching the monks, many of whom have been training there for 30, 40 even 50 years; day in and day out doing the quiet difficult work of transforming their lives and ways of being for them selves and for all others.

The principles of Buddhism and 12-Step recovery are based on doing and participating in learning how to “be” different, not think different, but change how one does things, and over time the thinking changes. In both setting one learns how to live one’s way into another way of being, rather trying to just think one’s way into another way of living.

As my memory and mind are starting to make mistakes in perception and “…where the hell was I going?”, some things remain familiar. I can sit quietly, and I can participate in practicing these principles in all my affairs (as a goal:).

I can be still within

Turbulence and discomfort.

I can put my hands

Together; look up and

Ask for guidance.

May I Know what is good to know.

May I Do what is good to do.

Please help!

Unclutching the hand…

unclenching the hand, the mind and heart,

loosening the grip of opinion and knowing

doing what needs doing and is good to do

at times staying in place and holding open

hands that receive as well as bestowing

a letting be, as prompting, allowing a trust

to grow. The road is dusty and clogged with

chariots and donkey carts, electric luxury-cars

Datsun pick-up trucks and no dividing lines or

direction signs. It all looks aimless and the result

of chance, and I may make my way, direction

not clear; destination will appear when time

place, heart and mind plus this little wanting

are willing to receive and give as needed and

useful. Distinction between near and far

allowed to arise and pass to go on and on,

those are my thoughts as I grow and shrink and

change and learn to stop and go, not wander

nor wonder, just doing as is good to do, in

gratitude to all who point and mind the Way.

Dithering; Unconsummated efficiency…

I sure have been crabby lately.

A deep need to scuttle along ocean floor, searching and seeking and looking just not very patiently.

And, I have no idea what I’m looking for. So, a good clue that I need to take refuge in all the things I’ve set aside to make room for worry and doubt and hesitancy. Later this week I’m going up to our Monastery at Mt. Shasta to spend a little time with the monks in their daily activity and let things settle down a bit, within.

These past two years have been variously difficult for everyone I know or have come into contact with, and my presumption is that many people just didn’t have the necessary tools at hand to help them cope with change, pending disaster, upheaval of the norm and all the ‘usual’ unpleasantness. What I didn’t notice was that my presumption of having tools nearby and at hand did not mean that I was reaching for or using them in a useful way for my circumstances.

I recognize that approaching life and its offerings as something to be manipulated by tools one has acquired, is pretty shallow, yet can be useful and necessar, although a bit like driving with one flat tire because three can still get you there, and when things get worse, fix it all. That feels like a strategy, almost a solution, albeit temporary; yet it is merely avoiding. Compounding delusions later on by following hope.

Even so, we can acquire skills, outlooks, practices and ways of doing, being and thinking, that may move us in the right direction when distracted, lost or dreaming. Help and outlook can provide us with practices and ways of doing that influence our being and thinking into more kind and helpful lives. Helpful and kind to others and ourselves, perhaps in equal measure.

I have noticed and it has come to my attention (subtle differences in applicability), that when one of my tires gets low I will adjust my driving for a time out of compensatory driving habits, but at some point I continue as it gets more noticeable and just hope it gets better, or there is a gas station/service center ahead…The tire may then go flat and my choices are still the same and have greater probability for real disaster, if I continue on in just pure hope and a sense of luck.

Better to stop and wait for some help. I have been down this road before…There’s a fair amount of local traffic.

I wait by the roadside, a warm evening

Ticking sounds as the engine

Cools down and I remember

A bottle of water I have and

Go and check the Owners Manual

And “How to Fix a Flat”