Tao de Dollar
(1) To be appropriately engaged, we have to be appropriately detached. Now, that’s the trick, if there ever was one. Optimal distance It’s called “working room.” It’s the emotional space between us and our lives. Figure that out—get that down—and you have it made.
(2) I don’t know how to recognize optimal when we see it, but I think it has to do with listening to our bodies. Our bodies carry our emotions. To know what we are feeling emotionally, we have to know what we are feeling physically. What is going on in our bodies? What sensation is the predominate sensation? Begin there. Focus on the sensation. Find the word that best describes it. Listen to what it has to say. Accept what it says. Notice the shift when it happens. Listening to our bodies, we find the way.
(3) Meditation is listening with acceptance (openness, mindfulness, awareness) to what is there. Meditation is experiencing our experience. Being present with what is present with us. Attuned to the implications our living has for our being, and the implications our being has for our living. Curious about what it might mean to live well on the earth. We cannot hope to live well without listening, without seeing. What do we do to encourage. to enable, listening, seeing? That is meditation.
(4) We cannot think we know what to do. That we know how to be. Every moment is a lesson in doing, in being. Every moment is our teacher. Right Seeing (and hearing). Right Thinking. Right Doing. Right Being. Right Seeing (and hearing)… It is a circle without beginning or end, opening before us in each moment, inviting us to be open to it.
(5) Where do you draw the line between too much and not enough? Don’t worry about it. When you are aware of having stepped over the line, ease up. When you are aware of having stepped back over the line, bear down.
(6) When you can’t figure it out. When you can’t see where you are going. Go with what you do see. Do what you can imagine doing. And trust the process. If you are wrong, you are just wrong. We can only do what we think is the thing to do. And see what happens. And then, do what we think is the thing to do in response to that, and see what happens.
(7) You cannot live so finely balanced as to get it right all the time. Or, even most of the time. So, do not let getting it wrong be a problem. And, do not let getting it right be a source of pride and triumph. Just live on, toward the best you can imagine in each moment, and let your outcomes be your outcomes.
(8) Second guessing is what we do best. Maybe we are wrong. Maybe not. We will not always do it the way other people think we ought to do it. Maybe they are right. Maybe not. How do we know who is right, who is wrong? Sometimes we do not know. We do not have to repent of everything. Sometimes, we have to repent of repentance.
(9) The work of being spiritual is the work of resolving our conflicts, internal and external. It is the work of peace. “Spiritual warfare” is a contradiction in terms. A “spiritual warrior” is an oxymoron. The Biblical ideas of Armageddon and Apocalypse, damnation and hell, are not spiritual reality. They represent an imposition of “the ways of the world” onto the Way.
(10)The Way is not warfare. It is not expulsion. It is not banishment. It is not the way of excommunication and exorcism and exclusion. It is the way of welcoming the prodigal home, of ministering unto “the least of these,” of eating with the outcasts and sinners and associating with the prostitutes and tax collectors. It is the way of the lion lying down with the lamb, and the bear eating straw like the ox. It is the way of beating our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks. Of loving our enemies and forgiving those who sin against us seventy times seven times. And, we cannot hope for peace between us, among us, until each of us, all of us, achieves a modicum of peace within us. Our spiritual work is stillness, and quiet, and peace within. Out of that center, we exude peace, we create peace, in the world.
(11)The challenge of life and the spiritual path is to know what must be assisted and what must be opposed—and to learn how to assist and how to oppose. Living well comes down to mastering the what and the how. The skills of mastery involve being quiet, being mindful, being awake, being conscious, being open, being aware, being alert, seeing, hearing, understanding, knowing and not-knowing. The tools of mastery are time and distance.
(12)It is interesting and entertaining and fun to note the differences in what we consider to be fun. They are remarkable. Your idea of a vacation would not likely be my idea at all.
(13)The trick is to have as much fun as we can manage without having it at anyone else’s expense (For instance, requiring me to go on vacation with you), while enabling others to have as much fun as they can manage, without having it at anyone else’s expense. I don’t see anything wrong with that for a life plan.
Tip of the Day
My advice to you is to spend time with things you enjoy. They don’t have to be big things. A cup of coffee will do. Or, reading a book to a grandchild. Or, walking the dog. Or, just walking. You better have some enjoyable moments tucked into each day. What? Do you think that after you get all that business taken care of—that after your ducks are in a row, and your crop is laid by, and you are well ahead of the game, and have it made, then you can enjoy your life? Then, you’ll be dead.
Today is the day to find something to enjoy and enjoy it. And, tomorrow is another day in which to do the same thing. And, so on, through all the todays there are. If you don’t soon kick into enjoying your life, it will be a long haul without much in it to be happy about.
All there is is enjoying ourselves and one another, and helping one another enjoy ourselves and one another. How long is your list of the things you enjoy about yourself, your life, and other people? How many other people do you enjoy being around? It’s up to you to find things to enjoy about practically everyone. There are not many people about whom there is nothing to enjoy. The people we don’t enjoy anything about should comprise a very short list. If you have a lot of people that are hard for you to be with, I’ll wonder if it is easy for you to be with yourself. And, if it is hard for you to be with yourself, I’ll wonder what that block is all about. What is so difficult about you enjoying you?
When is the last time you made yourself laugh out loud? The last time you said, “Wow!”, at something you said, or thought, or did? The last time you delighted yourself? Surprised yourself (in a positive way)? Pleased yourself? Who are you trying to please, if not you? What makes you so hard to please? We are not here to achieve perfection, whatever that is. We are here for the joy of it, for the pleasure of being alive. My advice to you is to get with the program.