What dictates our lives?

We can mow the grass or let it grow...

We can mow the grass or let it grow…

Some people wander through life letting the circumstances surrounding them to dictate their lives. Some people carefully construct the circumstances around their lives so they can dictate their lives.

Now, life, and people, are not that simple.. though people can tend to fall within one camp or the other…. One side says that the World is the master and we follow it and the other side says we are the master and make the world follow us.

Of course controlling circumstances can never be a one-way street… so it is important to realize this two-way flow…. So, if you feel that ‘fate’ controls your life for the most part…. It is time to contemplate the fact that it controls less than you realize and that you have more control than you understand. Experiment, and find just how much control you have. Conversely, if you feel that your ‘free will’ dictates your life… it may be time to think about how little control you actually have… how much reliance is placed on external functions.

So, it is important to have a good balance… to make sure we do not have bad self-worth, but also to make sure we do not have too much self-worth! Lol. Both feed our ego mind.

In the end, fate and free will are inventions, illusions…. They depend on the separation of ourselves from the world, which is illusionary, so they crumble away in an instant.

So, there is this dance. I write often about this dance… the dance we have with the Universe. It loves to dance.. .to dance with us…a joyful give and take… full of love and interplay…

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Dancing with the Dishes

Sometimes our blossoming is hidden deep inside ourselves

Sometimes our blossoming is hidden deep inside ourselves, sometimes it is not so deep.

Plants are amazing and wonderful life forms! The other day I was reading about how some animals can actually photosynthesize like a plant! Insane! Life is truly amazing.

Now, some plants we might think of as boring. We may even call them weeds. But nothing is boring! Even some ‘boring’ plants can hold amazing surprises. Some plants look fairly nondescript, and can live in this manner for years, even decades… and then, without warning… BAM! an amazing flowering display occurs! 

Somewhere inside that plant, this towering flower is waiting to be born. Is it not already there in some manner? Scientifically, you can say this exists as information encoded in its genome. Does that take away its magic or mystery? I don’t think so!

In Buddhism, it is said that all beings are already Buddha… we just fail to realize this, so we never bloom. But that kernel is inside us… in fact, it is not inside us, it is the entire Universe. And that is not just words, not merely symbolism and metaphor. It is the truth. Our inherent Buddha nature is, in a way, a gift from the entire cosmos… it is always speaking to us, trying to get us to bloom. Just as a plant must face the sun to flower, we must face the Universe too.

Inside of trying to become enlightened by turning inward, we must turn outward… and this in turns unfolds itself inwards… then outer becomes inner and inner becomes outer… in fact, neither exist. Freedom lies within this dance between inner and outer…. actually, it doesn’t it lies when the dance is just a dance without an inner self or an outer self… the Dance itself is freedom.

In Zen, it is said that Enlightenment is nothing more than washing the dishes…. When washing dishes becomes a dance, this is true.

Billions of Years Unfold in an Instant

Billions of years unfold in an instant

Billions of years unfold in an instant

Insects and flowers, flowers and insects… dancing, dancing, dancing….

Each carves the other, the never ending tango merges their hearts….

We all share this dance, everyone, everything, joins in! Bees, birds, flowers, skunks, people, rocks… you name it!

Some things share a more intimate dance, some are more distant. Feeling the endless interplay with all things among us, within us, lets our hearts melt into gratitude and love. Love.

 

 

 

Syncing Out of Time

Blossoming in Autumn

Blossoming in Autumn.

Winter is coming. How do you prepare? Well, in the tropics, it is more of a name than an event. Outside of the tropics, it is more profound. Nature can be seen to be hunkering down, closing up shop…. Sometimes though, we see things blossoming, coming to life…. Is it Spring? lol.

It is our conception of what autumn and winter are that makes us question a blossoming flower. The flower knows what it is doing, lol. What about ourselves? How do we prepare for Winter? Do we do it consciously? Subconsciously? Do we do it at all? lol.

My mind tends to turn more inwards during the Winter months. A natural flux, a transition that my being lets flow. What does this mean? I don’t know! haha.

Let us stop to smell the flowers, so they say, and contemplate our connection with the smell, the sight, the wonder and beauty… How many times have we danced with this flower? The flower with us? …countless times yet this is the only time ever it has happened…

Bam!

The Universe is exploding with wonder and dleight!

The Universe is exploding with wonder and delight!

In my last post, I wrote that compassionate acts are the Way. I also wrote that acts of horrific violence are also the Way. I feel I need to ensure it is clear what I mean by that. I do not condone acts of violence. Acts of violence will not help dissolve the illusion of our ego-mind. In very practical terms, they are not the Way. However, what I was doing, was referring to the operation of the Universe. In one sense, if any actions do not violate the laws of physics, then they are the Way of the cosmos. The Way is not merely the laws of physics though.

So, what am I saying? I suppose it is all about natural function and flow. I am reminded of the following comic:

cartoon

Now, a penguins natural function is not to climb trees. It can sure as hell try, and may even get somewhere. What is a humans natural function? What is you natural function?

Now, of course, the great thing about evolution is that animals (and plants, etc) can adapt so over time, a penguin would become an excellent tree climber!* So, there is a dance. We must learn our natural function and be in tune with that, but also be open to the fact that our ‘natural function’ is empty of inherent substance. It is always in flux. So we dance with our abilities, what we have been adapted to do, along with those things we are not adapted to do and therefore sometimes we trip and fall flat on our face!

I have veered away from my point however, lol. In the end, our natural function is about allowing the Universe to flow freely through us, beyond us. Our ‘free will’ and our ‘fate’ both dissolve into meaningless…. Neither exist as the Universe flows.

When we dissolve our ego-minds, who is left to experience free will or fate? Both are illusionary traps.

I trust the Universe and the Universe trusts me, we make the best team, the natural team, its our natural function, is it not?

 

*I seem to recall that maybe there are some tree climbing penguin species down in South America’s tip perhaps. Maybe I am wrong though!

Crow Time

Crow dancing with the Universe

Crow dancing with the Universe

Sometimes there are no right answers, yet this is the Way.

Sometimes the answer is crystal clear, and this is the Way.

The saying goes.. the Sun will still rise tomorrow, and this is the Way.

One day, billions of years from now grant you, the Sun will not rise tomorrow, yet this is the Way.

Triumphs and follies, compassionate acts and acts of horrific violence, they are all the Way.

The ‘Way’ is nothing more and nothing less than the Universe, all that is. It flows… sometimes smoothly without hindrance, sometimes rocky yet no hindrance is inherent in that hindering rockiness.

This Time has happened long ago and yet has never happened yet… but only is ever happening Now. Sometimes, we can see that the future actually flows into our Present and this changes the past.

How many times has this experience happened? Only once, yet countless of billions of times as well. Our counting minds, like crows counting up to 5 or 6, do not understand, yet the crow knows how to look past its counting and spread its wings and trust the abilities it has.

I can’t count that high, but that’s ok, my heart counts with a different mathematics and always gets the correct sum.

Black feathers ruffle in the gusting wind, head bobs up and down, flying to the ground. A worm awaits and is ripped apart and nourishes the counting-less heart. Caw Caw Caw.

Free your heart, full of love and understanding and let the tears stream down your face. Caw Caw Caw!!!

Joining in the dance

Rivers flow and the water returns, over and over... dancing with the Earth and fish. Jumping into the water disturbs the flow, but the river always knows how to regain its direction.. in fact, it has no choice. Love has no choice, it flows naturally, is always there, even if we are always jumping in that river, it will always flow and regain its form and function. When we keep our minds from jumping into our hearts, love can flow naturally, without hindrance and it is precisely this beauty that makes us jump in the first place! Lets learn that dance and always keep that beauty.

Rivers flow and the water returns, over and over… dancing with the Earth and fish. Jumping into the water disturbs the flow, but the river always knows how to regain its direction.. in fact, it has no choice. Love has no choice, it flows naturally, is always there, even if we are always jumping in that river, it will always flow and regain its form and function. When we keep our minds from jumping into our hearts, love can flow naturally, without hindrance and it is precisely this beauty that makes us jump in the first place! Lets learn that dance and always keep that beauty.

In the steady beat of the heart, blood flows in spirals throughout our beings.

A self-regulating dance emerges…

Our thinking minds watch the dance floor from the sidelines, excited in wonderment and joy… so eager to join in, yet not realizing it has two left feet!

It jumps in and clumsily disturbs the vortices and the dance stumbles to the ground.

The heart laughs, and sighs, and picks up the mind, trying to lead the dance, to teach and guide how it’s done.

Sometimes our minds may laugh too, and accept its shortcomings and allow to be taught, but oh, more often than not, the mind gets embarrassed and can’t admit that it ruined the dance! Surely it knows, and it should lead and it was our hearts fault for the stumble!

Let us get back to that original wonder, that original excitement and love at observing that dance… how beautiful it is, how beyond words it is……Let us see if our heart will let us join its dance again… of course it will, it always will, it is always on your side.

Trees and footprints.

Trees in the woods

Trees in the woods

In the woods, tress grow and decay away. The river flows downhill and the moss hugs tight.

Does the Dharma exist here? How could it? How could it not?

When we walk, our feet come down with each step to meet the Earth below, so much so as the Earth rises to our foot, which doesn’t move.

The Universe moves to guide us as much so as we move within it.

 

Teamwork

Leaf-cutting ants, working as a team.. Whose team are you on?

Leaf-cutting ants, working as a team.. Whose team are you on?

We are all involved in teamwork….Sometimes we are willing team members, sometimes not so willing… sometimes we are good teammates, and sometimes not so good….

So what teams are we on? Well, we can define ourselves on whichever teams we want to be! lol. I am in the team ‘democrat’, I am in the team ‘Republican’. I am in the team ‘Libertarian’. Those are political teams. I am in the team ‘hippy’, I am in the team ‘metal-head’, etc, etc…

It doesn’t really matter. In fact, aligning with any team, any collection of teams, divides us from others, and inherently creates division and separation. It creates thoughts of one being superior to another team. It is this reasoning why the late, great, Toni Packer said she wasn’t a Buddhist. Saying ‘I am Buddhist’ creates an unnessary division. The historical Buddha didn’t say he was Buddhist! lol.

I tend to not tell people I am Buddhist for this reason. It also creates immediate stereotypes and prejudices of what that means, whether good or bad. The same reason I do not tell people I am vegetarian. Why do they need to know? It comes up if someone is going to cook me a meal, and also may come up through natural conversation. If someone asks me why I am vegetarian, or why I am Buddhist, I usually give a very simple answer like ‘oh, many reasons…. the Buddha was a human being and seemed to figure out things really well, and I don’t eat meat for many reasons, like environmental, animal welfare, religious, etc’. I never defend my positions, and I never go into much detail… unless someone is truly interested. I am not a great Buddhist, nor a great vegetarian… I mean, i never eat meat, but perhaps I should be a vegan if I care so much about animal welfare and the environment… .I don’t meditate everyday and I havent taken the precepts.

Anyhow, where was I going with this rambling? Ah, yes, teamwork… we are all team mates on the team of the Universe! Hey, it’s true! If you accept the big bang theory to be true, then all that exists, ALL that exists, ever has existed and ever will exist, was once just one thing, without separation. So, we are all simply facets of that whole. Good, bad, ugly, pretty…. we are all on the same team. Team Universe!

When we act using this thought behind our actions, amazing things happen… the Universe rises up with us, and it says “hey, welcome back teammate, let’s get to work!”

The dance.

Who is your master?

Does this butterfly make you happy?

Does this butterfly make you happy?

If we are driving, and someone cuts us off… Do we get angry?
If we are driving, and we see a rainbow over the lush hills… Do we get happy?
Who is the master here?
The driver who cut us off? Do we feel they made us angry?
The rainbow? Do we feel its beauty made us happy?
Bad things happen, good things happen. Do they master us?
Do we hold onto the anger of the driver who cut us off? Do we keep thinking about it, replaying it in our heads, projecting visions of them getting pulled over by the police.. or worse even?
Do we hold onto the beauty of the rainbow? Do we keep thinking about it, replaying it in our heads, projecting visions of how to find more of them, wishing we had our camera to hand?
In many ways, our external world is our master, and this can be dangerous, regardless if we suffer from this mastering (like the anger) or if we benefit from this mastering (like the happiness). The anger could be thought of like a dirty jail cell.. we are not free and in a bad place, whereas the happiness could be thought of as a gilded cage, though beautiful, the bird is never free.
Now, we can try to acknowledge this and also understand that although we may not be able to control what happens to us, we can control how we react to what happens to us. This, I feel, is a very important transition to make.. It is much healthier to feel as we are our own master than to have the Universe master over ourselves. It can be very empowering and good.
In Zen, ultimately, however, there is no master, as the duality of ‘ourselves’ vs. everything not-ourselves is illusionary. The distinction can be a useful tool, yes, and we evolved to have this tool of self- realization as it has aided survival. That said, there is no separateness between ‘ourselves’ and all that exists, the Universe. When this is realized, and not just understood with our brains, then a wonderful dancing emerges, naturally, from the underlying functions of the ‘Universe’ and ‘ourselves’…

So, let’s first become our own master, then when we do, let’s let it fall away, then we can be truly free.