When someone tells me to, “pay attention,”
I am immediately confused.
To what am I to pay this attention?
And just what is this attention I am to pay?
If I turn to a sound or a sight
and ‘attend” my mind upon it,
a myriad other sights and sounds
no longer constellate within me.
The very quality of my experience is formed
by the focus of this mysterious process.
My attention creates my life.
So the command to pay attention
and the question of to what,
are perhaps the keys to happiness.
A narrow focus of attention on an object of desire,
may bring me what I think I want,
while cutting me off completely
from a broader and more wondrous world.
An open, diffuse, and spacious attending
may fill my heart with awe and joy,
while leaving me hungry for a sandwich.
I’ve learned this from my practice:
that narrow focus is a helpful tool,
best used infrequently and mindfully.
Life itself is lived most fully out in the open field
where narrow worries and concerns
float like insubstantial wisps carried
by the fresh breezes of existence.
The things my culture says should be my focus
have led me down a path of fear and strife
and cut me off from life.
I’ve set a bell sound on my phone that rings
each hour, a clear bright tone.
When I hear it I stop and ask,
“To what am I attending?”
A virtual meeting with William Martin
I will be hosting a Zoom meeting on Sunday, June 6, at 10:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time (US and Canada). I would like to use this meeting as a chance for us to connect after such a long period of being out of touch. As I continue to explore the work of my deeper Soul during my elder years, I want to be in community with my fellow travelers along this Tao/Way – for my own Spirit’s peace and joy, and also for whatever contribution I might still make to a culture in chaos.
I will be exploring the use of the Tao Te Ching as guidance for this journey. In this first meeting there will be time for sharing experiences and for asking questions. We will also explore what continuing connections we might want to build.
I’m a beginner at Zoom meetings, so I ask for your patience and assistance as I navigate, what are for me uncharted (also nerve-wracking) technological waters.
If you would like to participate, drop an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you an invitation containing the links you will need. In your email, please include any questions and/or subjects you would like me to explore.
I would love to connect/reconnect with you.
Everything that makes up
that which I call, “me,”
It is stardust, sunlight, and rain.
It is manure, seed, and plant.
It is animal, vegetable, and mineral.
These elements dance together for awhile
and from their dance comes, “me.”
I am only and ever the dance
whose rhythms and melodies flow
in constant interchange of sounds and silence,
andante and allegro, pianissimo and fortissimo,
always changing, never ending.
If I try to cling to, “me,”
I stop the song and end the dance.
When I understand that I’m not, “me,”
I find the dance will never end
and that I will always be.
Trust is elusive, to say the least.
I trust in something Whole that may be called
the Tao, the Ultimate, or God.
I confess though, I don’t trust the separate parts.
The components, so to speak, are insubstantial
and cannot bear my weight.
I don’t trust that life will always bring
what I assume that it has promised,
not because life is somehow bent,
but because so many factors hide between the promise
and my idea of how it should be kept.
“I’ll be there in the morning,” is sincerely spoken,
but it may be this morning, or tomorrow,
or next week, or maybe never.
I don’t trust events to unfold
according to some plan of mine,
born within the synapses of my brain.
How, then, do I find a place for trust to rest?
The Tao Te Ching asks me:
“Can you wait patiently for the dust to settle
so the way ahead comes clear?”
This is trust – to sit and wait.
Wu-wei – “letting life live itself,” requires patience.
Not to do; not to fix; not to force…
I can hold out for a while, but soon,
I jump back into the fray, for,
if I don’t, what then becomes of me?
Ah, there is the question.
There is the key.
If I wait for long enough, I sink
into the flow that does not simply carry me,
but envelops me, infuses me, and becomes me.
Trust, then, becomes the very nature of my being.
What else, who else could I be?
The Great Way of Tao
is not a way of getting what I want.
Sometimes I struggle so with life,
that I neglect to live.
I try so hard to have my way,
that I forget to play.
I mistake events that daily come
as stumbling blocks to be avoided,
or as knots to be untied.
Yet an ordinary day is filled with wonders
concealed by my conditioned way of thinking.
Each moment contains a buried treasure
awaiting my discovery.
Even when my psyche aches within
the dark and painful passages of life,
a hidden gem anticipates revealing
in a blinding flash of light.
Adversity becomes an opportunity,
and adversaries are revealed as friends.
Gratitude blossoms in my being.
Tiny cracks appear in my facade
of doubting melancholy.
A playful mood insists on coming in
no matter how I try to stop it,
and soon I smile.
I just can’t help it.
I’m looking for contentment by removing
anything that bothers me,
by ordering events according to my whims,
or by building barriers against the chaos of the world.
“Nyah, nyah, nyah, I can’t hear you.”
It doesn’t seem to work.
I’d be content, I really would.
But the deer nibble the fresh green tops of my carrots.
The moles and gophers honeycomb my yard and pasture.
The chickadees make holes in the ancient siding of my cabin,
and my naps are interrupted by their constant rapping.
The septic tank is ancient and requires time and dollars,
as does the deck and fencing.
So contentment is postponed until these things,
and others too numerous to list,
are restrained and tamed at last.
Until that time I rant at wildlife,
curse the winds that rip the siding,
suffer the arrows of fortune,
and wait and hope and strive
to hold things stable long enough
to find that peace I seek.
Or might there be another way?
Is there something I am missing?