The Journey to Enlightenment

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“If you take a journey to the place that you are, you will visit many other places. And perhaps, when you find through some long experience that all the places you go are not the place you wanted to find, it may occur to you that you were already there in the beginning.”  ~Alan Watts

There are so many of us running, striving, stretching, searching.  Looking for purpose and meaning, looking for enlightenment.  Trying to find a way in, or a way out.  Trying to fix or improve ourselves. “If only I could get in shape.”  “If only I could control my temper.”  “If only I could be successful.”  “If only I had a little more money.”  Listen:  We have already arrived.  For starters, we live in one of, or perhaps the only, great concentration of consciousness in the universe, riding a small but fertile rock.  We are surrounded by trillions of companions, (some more sympathetic than others)  And while it is true that it is a world of suffering, all suffering (and each sufferer) comes to an end in due time.

Take a moment and rest in what you have.  In what is.  In who you are.

You are the Universe.  You are doing fine.

~Dadosaurus Rex

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Stop Trying To Control People

22thebestwaytocontrolpeople0aistoencouragethem0atobemischievous220a-default“Even though you try to put people under control, it is impossible. You cannot do it. The best way to control people is to encourage them to be mischievous. Then they will be in control in a wider sense. To give your sheep or cow a large spacious meadow is the way to control him. So it is with people: first let them do what they want, and watch them. This is the best policy. To ignore them is not good. That is the worst policy. The second worst is trying to control them. The best one is to watch them, just to watch them, without trying to control them.”   Shunryu Suzuki

Top Ten John Muir Quotes

Händkakk_2014I love inspirational and thought provoking quotes.  I love when a complex, intricate, gargantuan subject or idea can be represented with not so many words.  They’re easy to find (thanks to the internet) They’re diverse and plentiful, and they draw me in like a moth to a fortune cookie

This morning, I am feeling a special affection toward the wise words of John Muir.  I’d like to have copy and pasted the entire list from Goodreads and BrainyQuote, but for the sake of brevity, I have only included ten.

10.  “Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” ~John Muir

9.  “As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can”.  ~John Muir

8.  “This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.”  ~John Muir

7.  “Going to the woods is going home.”   ~John Muir

6.  “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”  ~John Muir

5.  “Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.”  ~ John Muir

4.   “I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do.”  ~John Muir

3.  “The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us. Thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing. The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls, and every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love.”  ~John Muir

2. Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”  ~John Muir
1.  “The power of imagination makes us infinite.”  ~John Muir
BONUS QUOTE!
I thought this one would go nicely as a tagline on my Unschooling blog Dadosaurus Rex:
“One day’s exposure to mountains is better than a cartload of books.”  ~John Muir

Perhaps… (A Zen Koan)

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There was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“Perhaps,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “What great luck!” the neighbors exclaimed.

“Perhaps,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

“Perhaps,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

“Perhaps,” said the farmer…

I love this.  It is such a wonderful reminder that no event is the be all and end all of life as we know it.  Don’t dwell on the tragedies, and don’t get attached to the seemingly positive.  True control comes from realizing you have none.

Stop Thinking

“Stop thinking, and end your problems.” ~Lao Tzu

IMG_20150428_143905We live in a beautiful world.  Even the small segment that our senses can take in (smaller still what our minds can comprehend) is beyond what we can express with words.  There are infinite opportunities for joy, yet we use so much of our time fretting over the insignificant; the non-consequential.  We fill our days with worry and busyness, trying to get ahead.  We constantly occupy our minds with television and social media, afraid to sit in silence, and be alone with ourselves.  Trying to drown out and silence the voices of fear, regret, and uncertainty.

Stop worrying.  Stop thinking.  You are on the right path; the only path; your path.  Follow it to the end.  Take care with each step.  Feel each breath.  There is no need for fear.  You are a passenger, an observer.  Enjoy the ride.

Never Waste an Obstacle

An obstacle does not prevent you from reaching your goal, it only changes the path you take to get there.

fallen treeAn obstacle measures what your dreams are worth

An obstacle reminds you where you are going

An obstacle gives character to your journey

An obstacle fosters growth and change

An obstacle gives perspective

“The obstacle is the path”  – Zen Proverb

Get. Back. Up.

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“Fall down seven times, stand up eight.” ~Japanese Proverb

These words are a refuge to me, and they bring great joy each time I hear them.  Trying to be healthy, trying to be a good husband and father, trying to make a difference in this world, I fall.  I have fallen many more than seven times, but there is so much comfort in knowing all I need to do is get back up, and keep going.  No need to waste time fretting, or complaining, or wishing, I just need to know that I can learn from my mistakes, and press on.

As I was pondering this phrase yesterday, I found the numbers a bit odd.  If I fall seven times, I would only have to get up seven times, not eight, right?  Well, that is assuming that I started from standing.  But if my original position was on the ground, I would have to stand up first, before I even fell once.  We don’t come walking out of our mothers womb, but we begin in a position of helplessness, and remain that way until we are strong enough to pull ourselves up, and start taking those first steps.

It is the same with any other aspect of our lives.  We do not start out as masters, we do not start out on our feet.  Once we do stand up, we do not need to worry about falling, because we can’t fall any farther than to the ground, which was where we started, and we already know how to stand up.  Fall seven times, stand up eight.

Remembering To Wash Your Bowl

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I recently stumbled upon this Zen story:

A monk told Joshu, “I have just entered the monastery. Please teach me.”

Joshu asked, “Have you eaten your rice porridge?

The monk replied, “I have eaten.”

Joshu said, “Then you had better wash your bowl.”

At that moment the monk was enlightened.

For some reason, this story really resonated with me.  I, like the monk, was enlightened.  But why?  It seems so simple, after you eat, wash your bowl.  Focus on the task in front of you and carry it on to completion.  Its what Grandma would tell you if she wasn’t holed up in her room surfing the web on her smart phone, and trolling random blogs (Hi Grandma!).

But in today’s always-moving-on-to-the-next-thing society, this is not a truth you can take for granted.  And its not just dishes.  I have so many incomplete tasks floating around out there, I have not only filled my mental sink with dishes, but they have spilled out to cover the counter, and I have started stacking them on the floor.  Honestly, I hardly even cook anymore, I just go out to eat.  Spending my time on tasks that just give the illusion of completeness, like social media, checking my blog’s stats, watching movies, et cetera.

So, from this point forward, until I get tired of it, and decide to quit mid-stream, I am going to finish what I start, and I am going to start less.  I will take it one task at a time, and wash my dish slowly.  Not only that, I’ll do you one better, and dry it.  No.  I will go all out, and put it away.

So, if you are asking yourself, what should I be doing?  How do I find enlightenment?  What is my purpose in life?  Wash your bowl, son.  Wash your bowl.

(If this sounds familiar, it may be because it is a post from my blogger blog, which is no longer active.  If you followed me on blogger, you may have read it there)