Pascal’s Wager (2/15/21)

When my mind gets caught in crazy loops
of unknown futures, hopes, and expectations –
I think of Pascal’s famous wager:

He framed it in Christian terms:
Either there is a God, or there isn’t.
If there is, building one’s life around God’s will
is the only rational thing to do
and will reap great benefit.
If there isn’t, building one’s life around the possibility
of God’s existence is still a rational act.
Assuming God’s existence brings everything to gain,
and nothing to lose.

Orthodox religion no longer satisfies me,
But Pascal’s wager still intrigues me.
Either the Great Tao, the Mystery, exists –
or the whole thing is random nonsense.
Basing my life on the existence of a coherent Mystery
is a wager I’m quite willing to make.
And if that Mystery exists,
it follows that it permeates the Cosmos
to the smallest quantum particle.
And the minuscule moments of my life
are part of an eternal, coherent flow
that I can trust.
Each moment brings exactly what is needed.
What seems gain, or loss, is simply flow
of which I am a part,
and from which I cannot be separated.

Hard to do,
but rationally,
no other choice makes sense,
and I get to savor every moment of my life!

Deeper Than Yin and Yang

I’ve lived within duality most of my life.
If there is a this, there must be a that.
Yin and Yang make up the Cosmos,
down to the smallest parts of quantum structure.

But wait.

There was a point when Yin and Yang began.
They started their dance upon the ballroom of time
and brought into being the ten thousand forms –
the things I learned to call reality.
But it is the ballroom that contains the dance,
and it is there that I want to live my later years.

Lao-Tzu knew the Great Tao
from which came the forms,
and to which these forms return.
So why all the ado about forms?
Why give Yin and Yang so much power?
Important to the dance they are, of course,
but they are not the deepest truth.

This division of life into parts has served a purpose,
but it has been carried way too far.
In my mountain retreat I don’t read
or listen much to media.
It’s all about dividing things into separate, ever smaller, pieces
and I’m through with all of that. .
It is a Whole; just One Thing is happening, and it is all connected.
It is time to put the pieces of my soul together once again.

Melancholy? (2/10/21)

I spend the first few minutes of the day watching the fire,
trying to arrange the wood just right,
so the flames can find their way
around and through the pieces.
I leave the electric heater off these cold mornings
and practice patience, letting the wood give itself
to the gradual warming of the cabin.
The crackle of the flames is soothing
and the heat goes deeper into my bones.

Am I melancholic?
Of course, but happily so.
A paradox, to be sure.
Melancholy is one of the subtle spices
that brings a full rich flavor to my life.
It has companions in the stew, of course:
Joy in myriad sights and sounds;
Love abounding in unexpected places;
Taste of butter rice, green olives, and mandarin oranges;
Nancy’s eyes and voice.

Still, if the transience of forms doesn’t bring some melancholy,
we’re just not paying attention.
Thing is, melancholy itself is one of these transient forms
that does its dance at appointed times.

Beneath it all is Light without a hint of shadow
and Love without a trace of fear.

Why? (2/7/21)

Once again the fireplace has warmed the cabin
gently and surely, even on a cold morning
with snow covering the ground.
The seasons feel long and tiresome.
I go through the motions, but feel no lasting satisfaction.
Is this the fate of all who grow old?
In luxury or poverty, we fade away.
Yet my food is delicious
and a waning moon lights the southern morning sky.
I wash my breakfast dishes and brush my teeth
and take a step into another day.
I have nothing of worth to say so why
do I write these words,
and why do I bother publishing them?
I suppose for the same reason that I breathe in,
then out.

I’ve been processing my life with words
for more than seventy years;
ephemeral symbols inside my head
to which I have looked for answers.
If answers had been contained within these words,
I would have found them by now.
The Tao that can be thought about
is not the Tao I’m looking for.
I’m looking these days in some places
I’ve never looked before.
The vibration of a hand-made drum against my chest;
the sound of a chant echoing cyclically in my ears
and resonating in my bones;
the sight of a waxing new moon over Mt. Eddy in the west
with never a thought of, “what a pretty moon!”
I can’t teach anyone anything any more.
The words are gone.
I’m too busy looking, listening, touching and tasting.