Taoism 101: Introduction to the Tao — Awaken

 

I have been asked many times how to find a Temple, Master or how best to learn Taoism. So I created a short Taoism 101 course on how to discover Taoism… Here is a different type of guide to learning Taoism, a modernized practical guide to living as a Taoist!. Taoism teaches a person to…

via Taoism 101: Introduction to the Tao — Awaken

Happy New Year . . .

In the past, New Years eve has traditionally been a time for light hearted partying and giving my girl a big kiss as the countdown begins. This year I am alone, though, because my girl went to the beach. I only have the dogs and a bottle of good old Mad Raven wine to keep me company. This year as I reflect upon the past as well as the present I am sitting here at my desk thinking INCOMING! (you know, that word that gets shouted when a mortar goes off in the compound and everybody dives in their hidey hole?) This year as I look into my crystal ball all I can get from it is a feeling of dread.

Why is that? Am I just getting too old to enjoy myself anymore? No, not really, at 76 I am still in great shape, still dropping trees, chopping firewood and building stuff. I FEEL great . . .  it’s this nagging survival instinct of mine that’s driving me crazy. It’s like being in the middle of a coal dark, jungle night. It’s uneasy . . . queasy . . . and not knowing which way to take flight.

Something is going on folks and it’s right on the other side of the horizon. I know it because my instinct is rarely wrong when it rings this loud. Creedence Clearwater sang about a Bad Moon Rising, but then it was just a song. . . now I believe it is a not so future happening.

I haven’t always felt this way, believe me. I’m an old peace and love hippy for Christ’s sake. That philosophy is about as positive as one could get. We were going to end the war and change the world. Tim Leary and the other pied pipers of the day had us convinced that all we had to do was drop out, stay stoned, and love the night away. Well, guess what . . . we tried and the night never died.  

Before the hippy days, as a returning vet I knew the world was in chaos and much of it was caused by America, but my attitude was . . . Que Sera, Sera, what will be will be . . . I just needed to make sure I got what was mine, and through the years I did fairly good at it.

Then along came 911

That morning as I was getting ready for work I watched in horrified anger as the second plane hit the towers.  Later I rejoiced when Bush went after Saddam . . . double so when I heard my old brigade was leading the charge by making a night parachute drop into northern Iraq. And those Americans who talked about the Towers being a set up? They deserved to be deported.

I felt that way for quite some time . . . but slowly I began to realize that something was not quite kosher about the whole deal. The crime scene was immediately cleaned up . . . why? How did that huge jet plane get into that little round hole in the pentagon? Why wasn’t it on the tape? Why were all the cameras turned off?

The discrepancies built up, one after the other, until they flooded all the patriotism out of my brain and filled it with doubt. I began to study the entire sequences of all the events, carefully and on my own. Conspiracy theorism was not my large suit, I thought those people who wrote that stuff were fiction inspired crackpots and nothing more. I went for the middle ground, I researched and read guys who were educated . . . engineers, architects, etc. People who were on the scene, that gave an interview and suddenly disappeared.

Today, after so many years of research from so many reliable professionals at least half the population believes there was some not-so-funny goings on at the time, and me? . . . I am convinced without any doubt whatsoever that 911 was a staged event.

But then again, this essay is not about proving 911 pro or con . . . it’s about about what 911 has led up to. Because that is what we are experiencing in real time right now.

I remember a guy saying a few weeks after the whole thing went down and people were beginning to question it. “Watch and see what happens to the country after 911 . . . how much we change . . . in what direction . . . how severe have our freedoms been attacked or downright take away in the name of security.

And I will add to that . . . just drop all preconceived ideas and take a look around for yourself and make up your own mind. I don’t really care what you do because I know it is hard work and it takes a bit of time to do it . . . and who has time these days to do anything other than support our own person and take care of our own stuff? Like the young lady tells me the other day, “who cares? I’m too busy to worry about that kind of stuff!”

That’s why I fear, not for myself as I’m an old man halfway down the escape hatch, but for these kids who are so oblivious to the facts on the ground . . . who, as long as their iphones still work, really don’t give a shit as to what is taking place around them and have no desire to do anything about it. . . .

So, this new Years eve I won’t be partying, and I won’t be preaching or praying. I’m gonna drink my bottle of Mad Raven, play my guitar until I pass out on the couch. . . . although I might utter a small hope that I don’t have another episode of this recurring dream:

The Rainmakers

Standing alone

In the freezing rain

Among the insane

There is no pain

There is no gain.

The thrill of the fight

The rush while in flight,

Away we go . . . into the night.

Standing alone

Wanting to scream

But it’s not easy to scream

In this fucked up dream.

Where the bullets are slow

And my barrel is bent.

And my target

Will never stay down.

Standing alone

In the rain

Among the crying, among the dying

Watching war go round.

Again-and again-and again.

 

  

The Shooting of Dan McGrew

Now I’ve read a lot of rhyming verse and even writ some too . . .
but nothing as refined as this could I ever hope to do.

Maybe it was the times . . .
Maybe it was the rhymes . . .
Maybe it was the ice in Robert’s brain.

But here below is a gem from the snow
I’ll read again and again and again . . . (and so will you)

A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Malamute saloon;
The kid that handles the music-box was hitting a jag-time tune;
Back of the bar, in a solo game, sat Dangerous Dan McGrew,
And watching his luck was his light-o’-love, the lady that’s known as Lou.

When out of the night, which was fifty below, and into the din and the glare,
There stumbled a miner fresh from the creeks, dog-dirty, and loaded for bear.
He looked like a man with a foot in the grave and scarcely the strength of a louse,
Yet he tilted a poke of dust on the bar, and he called for drinks for the house.
There was none could place the stranger’s face, though we searched ourselves for a clue;
But we drank his health, and the last to drink was Dangerous Dan McGrew.

There’s men that somehow just grip your eyes, and hold them hard like a spell;
And such was he, and he looked to me like a man who had lived in hell;
With a face most hair, and the dreary stare of a dog whose day is done,
As he watered the green stuff in his glass, and the drops fell one by one.
Then I got to figgering who he was, and wondering what he’d do,
And I turned my head — and there watching him was the lady that’s known as Lou.

His eyes went rubbering round the room, and he seemed in a kind of daze,
Till at last that old piano fell in the way of his wandering gaze.
The rag-time kid was having a drink; there was no one else on the stool,
So the stranger stumbles across the room, and flops down there like a fool.
In a buckskin shirt that was glazed with dirt he sat, and I saw him sway;
Then he clutched the keys with his talon hands — my God! but that man could play.

Were you ever out in the Great Alone, when the moon was awful clear,
And the icy mountains hemmed you in with a silence you most could HEAR;
With only the howl of a timber wolf, and you camped there in the cold,
A half-dead thing in a stark, dead world, clean mad for the muck called gold;
While high overhead, green, yellow and red, the North Lights swept in bars? —
Then you’ve a haunch what the music meant . . . hunger and night and the stars.

And hunger not of the belly kind, that’s banished with bacon and beans,
But the gnawing hunger of lonely men for a home and all that it means;
For a fireside far from the cares that are, four walls and a roof above;
But oh! so cramful of cosy joy, and crowned with a woman’s love —
A woman dearer than all the world, and true as Heaven is true —
(God! how ghastly she looks through her rouge, — the lady that’s known as Lou.)

Then on a sudden the music changed, so soft that you scarce could hear;
But you felt that your life had been looted clean of all that it once held dear;
That someone had stolen the woman you loved; that her love was a devil’s lie;
That your guts were gone, and the best for you was to crawl away and die.
‘Twas the crowning cry of a heart’s despair, and it thrilled you through and through —
“I guess I’ll make it a spread misere,” said Dangerous Dan McGrew.

The music almost died away . . . then it burst like a pent-up flood;
And it seemed to say, “Repay, repay,” and my eyes were blind with blood.
The thought came back of an ancient wrong, and it stung like a frozen lash,
And the lust awoke to kill, to kill . . . then the music stopped with a crash,
And the stranger turned, and his eyes they burned in a most peculiar way;

In a buckskin shirt that was glazed with dirt he sat, and I saw him sway;
Then his lips went in in a kind of grin, and he spoke, and his voice was calm,
And “Boys,” says he, “you don’t know me, and none of you care a damn;
But I want to state, and my words are straight, and I’ll bet my poke they’re true,
That one of you is a hound of hell . . . and that one is Dan McGrew.”

Then I ducked my head, and the lights went out, and two guns blazed in the dark,
And a woman screamed, and the lights went up, and two men lay stiff and stark.
Pitched on his head, and pumped full of lead, was Dangerous Dan McGrew,
While the man from the creeks lay clutched to the breast of the lady that’s known as Lou.

These are the simple facts of the case, and I guess I ought to know.
They say that the stranger was crazed with “hooch”, and I’m not denying it’s so.
I’m not so wise as the lawyer guys, but strictly between us two —
The woman that kissed him and — pinched his poke — was the lady that’s known as Lou.

The Cello

She stands alone in the corner of the sunlit room  
 silently awaiting the return of her master.

Only he, has the power to transform her
 from the awkward block of wood she is without him,
 into the instrument of astounding beauty and grace
 she becomes when wrapped in his arms.

There, neck to neck, consumed with the passion of young lovers 
 and the caring respect of old, they flow as one
 to the rhythm of their own private love song.

Only he, can fill her being with the fires of creativity
and allow her to fulfill her destiny.

She waits, lonely, but knowing, 
 anticipating his strong but gentle touch.

The Story

This guy is fascinating to me . . . like one day I took a walk in Central Park and discovered a long lost brother from the sixties before everybody was pigeon holed into this huge social trap of sameness. A time when free thought and weirdness was the order of the day. . . . We need more bonobo’s like him to come out of hiding and not be afraid to do it.

Whats YOUR story? . . . . . . . . .

The Coffee House

We can choose our wives
But a child is a gift
No choice – no voice in the matter
In the beginning who knows what we got?
A Mother Theresa or a Mad Hatter?

You try to love, defend, and feed
As long as life allows it
But sometimes things go wrong
And we sing a bluesy song
But ultimately . . . we carry on.

Yesterday we drove to town
To a special meet
That went incomplete
So we went for coffee instead
And after all was said . . . there was nothing left to dread.

Yesterday I realized how fortunate I am
To have been blessed (and not just stressed)
With the little ray of sunshine given me.

We can choose our wives
But a child is a gift
No choice – no voice in the matter
In the beginning who knows what we got?
A Mother Theresa or a Mad Hatter?

As for me – I was so blessed that today ( 51 years later)
I was able to walk into a coffee house with a best friend
Who I am free enough with . . . to drop the walls
And bare my heart . . . too.

That is a gift beyond measure . . . a heavenly treasure.

The Spell Of The Yukon

The Spell of the Yukon

I wanted the gold, and I sought it;
   I scrabbled and mucked like a slave.
Was it famine or scurvy—I fought it;
   I hurled my youth into a grave.
I wanted the gold, and I got it—
   Came out with a fortune last fall,—
Yet somehow life’s not what I thought it,
   And somehow the gold isn’t all.

 

No! There’s the land. (Have you seen it?)
   It’s the cussedest land that I know,
From the big, dizzy mountains that screen it
   To the deep, deathlike valleys below.
Some say God was tired when He made it;
   Some say it’s a fine land to shun;
Maybe; but there’s some as would trade it
   For no land on earth—and I’m one.

You come to get rich (damned good reason);
   You feel like an exile at first;
You hate it like hell for a season,
   And then you are worse than the worst.
It grips you like some kinds of sinning;
   It twists you from foe to a friend;
It seems it’s been since the beginning;
   It seems it will be to the end.

I’ve stood in some mighty-mouthed hollow
   That’s plumb-full of hush to the brim;
I’ve watched the big, husky sun wallow
   In crimson and gold, and grow dim,
Till the moon set the pearly peaks gleaming,
   And the stars tumbled out, neck and crop;
And I’ve thought that I surely was dreaming,
   With the peace o’ the world piled on top.

The summer—no sweeter was ever;
   The sunshiny woods all athrill;
The grayling aleap in the river,
   The bighorn asleep on the hill.
The strong life that never knows harness;
   The wilds where the caribou call;
The freshness, the freedom, the farness—
   O God! how I’m stuck on it all.

The winter! the brightness that blinds you,
   The white land locked tight as a drum,
The cold fear that follows and finds you,
   The silence that bludgeons you dumb.
The snows that are older than history,
   The woods where the weird shadows slant;
The stillness, the moonlight, the mystery,
   I’ve bade ’em good-by—but I can’t.

There’s a land where the mountains are nameless,
   And the rivers all run God knows where;
There are lives that are erring and aimless,
   And deaths that just hang by a hair;
There are hardships that nobody reckons;
   There are valleys unpeopled and still;
There’s a land—oh, it beckons and beckons,
   And I want to go back—and I will.

They’re making my money diminish;
   I’m sick of the taste of champagne.
Thank God! when I’m skinned to a finish
   I’ll pike to the Yukon again.
I’ll fight—and you bet it’s no sham-fight;
   It’s hell!—but I’ve been there before;
And it’s better than this by a damsite—
   So me for the Yukon once more.

There’s gold, and it’s haunting and haunting;
   It’s luring me on as of old;
Yet it isn’t the gold that I’m wanting
   So much as just finding the gold.
It’s the great, big, broad land ’way up yonder,
   It’s the forests where silence has lease;
It’s the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
   It’s the stillness that fills me with peace.

Writing Tip: Brainstorming — KaylaAnn

The really awesome thing about blogs is that they are constantly growing and hopefully the audience (Followers) are also growing. When I first posted this tip, I had under 50 followers, now I am nearly at 2,000! I repost old material when I think that it becomes relevant for new eyes (and good reminders for […]

via Writing Tip: Brainstorming — KaylaAnn

Poetry

I took to looking for poetry on the blogs this morning and was sorely displeased with what I found. Now I am almost (not quite) an ancient human being and I came from another era I know, but today’s poetry, forgive my saying, stinks. It is so dark and so dreary it makes even Poe’s stuff seem bright.

Back in the day, even though Vietnam was raging and the draft was on, young people wrote about hope and change (before it became bullshit, Obama)  Dylan led a large crowd and the coffee houses were filled with poets and songsters. The mikes were open to all sorts of greatness (as well as nonsense) . . . but the mood was “WOW” . . . upbeat.

It’s just my personal opinion I know, but I love Dylan and Robert Service and Robert Frost as well as many others. (including Poe!)

Maybe today’s crowd is so intent on being current and different they forgot that, no matter how great their poetry and their music and their art is . . . it is all a language and a language that cannot be understood is worthless. It’s like a preacher speaking in tongues. Who of (less than God) can even understand what the hell he is even talking about.

This poem is for you because it may be that you have not just gotten off the beaten path, but are lost in the jungle of moroseness . . . .

PS If you find what I said offensive, take a look around, read a bunch of poems and try to figure out what the writer is even talking about . . . if you can, more power to you cause this old man sure as all hell can’t . . .

 

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Knowing

Once upon a time, many years ago, I dropped a tab of acid and had my awakening. Years later I realized I’d never had my awakening at all . . . .

Then I found Jesus and the church and had my true awakening. Years later I realized I’d never had my awakening at all . . . .

Then I read and studied spiritual things and teachings until the day my head was so full of understanding that I finally realized I’d had my awakening. Years later, though I’d sat at the feet of the best and the brightest spiritual teachers, I realized I actually never had awakened at all . . . .

Today, as I sit before my fire and contemplate on all the knowledge and understandings I have acquired from my many encounters with the spiritual life, I am beginning to realize that ALL that stuff, upon my death, will remain here in my ego driven head because the only things I can take with me are the things I have given away . . . the simple acts of kindness and love, mercy and grace that I have shown upon all those I came into contact with . . . .

Because the truth is THOSE are the fruits of our spiritual labor and we cannot fake our way onto a higher plane by spouting spiritual nonsense, or name dropping our favorite savior teacher, or any other way. . . .

In that next world, on that next plateau . . . it’s not about what you KNOW . . . it’s about who you ARE.

Who you pretend to be will get you far on this planet . . . who you really are is all that counts once the veil has lifted and the fog has shifted . . . . .it’s important to know that.