Day Thirty Four: Engagement

Daily Journal

Yesterday, I stumbled across a podcast I really liked, while just looking for a show discussing the topic of “mindfulness”. The podcast is called The Mystic Show and the host is Chris Curran, who seems to have had the privilege of much traveling abroad in his life, and has a background in the recording studio side of the music business. He mentions in one episode that he “overdosed on Tony Robbins a few years ago”, indicating that he is approaching the topic of spirituality after years of being immersed in self help and personal development. Not uncommon. I enjoyed the podcast and I plan to read through a book he covers extensively in the podcast called “Byways of Blessedness” by James Allen, which is public domain and available to read for free here.


The zendo at Loose Leaf Hollow in Bardstown, Kentucky.

I also went to my Thursday night meditation group at Loose Leaf Hollow in Bardstown. Since I’ve been waking up early in the morning (about two weeks now), I’ve had a lot of difficulty staying awake for meditation sessions there, which go from 7PM-9PM (including time spent socializing and having tea, and for Joe Zarantonello’s talks that go with the meditation). The sleepiness has been so bad the last two Thursdays, I really couldn’t even attempt to meditate. I almost felt like excusing myself from the group so I could go home and sleep. I would shut my eyes, nod off a little, and wake up when I started to fall over.

Lately, Joe has really been working with the Reggie Ray style of guided meditation and also chanting along with the San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble’s track called “Abwoon” (The Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic). Many different spiritual traditions are covered at Loose Leaf Hollow and chanting in Aramaic is new to me. Joe loaned me a copy of The Hidden Gospel: Decoding the Spiritual Message of the Aramaic Jesus by Neil Douglas-Klotz, but I haven’t begun reading it yet.

The track “Abwoon” from Ancient Echoes: Music from the Time of Jesus and Jerusalem’s Second Temple by San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble is available on YouTube. You can listen and chant along.

Deng Ming-Dao on Engagement:

Prey passes the tiger who
Sometimes merely looks,
Sometimes pounces without hesitation
But never fails to act.

Life, as Deng Ming-Dao says, “is a constant series of opportunities”. Whatever comes to us, we have to engage in it. We may let the opportunity go because the timing isn’t right. We can seize the opportunity. We must not let the opportunity pass because we were slow or unable to take the opportunity. This is what he calls engagement.

The Daily Stoic: The Source of your Anxiety

Epictetus defines the source of anxiety as wanting something outside our control. Ryan Holiday says “Staring at the clock, at the ticker, at the next checkout lane over, at the sky- it’s as if we all belong to a religious cult that believes the gods of fate will only give us what want if we sacrifice our peace of mind.”

Today, I find myself anxious, as I do most mornings. Can I squeeze everything I want to do in the hour or two before I leave for work? Time is always a source for anxiety for me, particularly as it relates to not being able to accomplish many things in the time I am given, getting in trouble for not doing what is expected of me, things that are often impossible considering time restraints.

As Ryan states, the anxiety doesn’t do me any good. As I finally figured out by trying to balance full time (plus overtime) work schedule with playing every weekend with bands and parenting a few years ago, my anxiety comes from not having more time. I was able to relieve this anxiety by giving up a responsibility: Playing in bands.

Another source of anxiety is not having control over the actions of other people, particularly the decisions they make that affect you in a negative way.

I don’t have control over congested traffic. Et cetera.

Tomorrow, I’ll discuss dieting. Particularly my food diet and Facebook Diet!


Day Thirty One: Orientation

Daily Journal

This morning, I recorded a 21-minute podcast as a review of the month of January 2017. Topics covered in the podcast:

  • The balance between “Going with the flow & letting life unfold” vs. “Goals”
  • The difficulty of avoiding time management in our society since our jobs swallow up most of our time.
  • Overcoming addictions that take away free time. (Smoking cigarettes, Facebook, cellphone addiction, drinking, snacking, etc.)
  • Successes & failures during January 2017.
  • Goals for February 2017 and beyond.

Deng Ming-Dao on Orientation

Planets orbit the sun.
Forms orbit the mind.

Most of us embody disparate aspects in our personalities; these are our forms, the way we take shape. If we aren’t careful, we can become confused by such complexity. We should not deny any part of ourselves. We should arrange them. All elements are valid — they must simply be placed in the right context.

Those who follow Tao understand that a diverse personality is problematic only if some aspects dominate to the exclusion of the others. This is unbalanced. If there is constant alteration between all aspects, then equilibrium is possible. Like the planets, feelings, instincts, and emotions must be kept in a constantly rotating order. Then all things have their place and the problems of excess are avoided.

Just as the sun is at the center of our solar system, so too must the mind of wisdom be the center of our diverse personalities. If our minds are strong, then the various parts of our lives will be held firmly to their proper courses, and there will be no chance of deviation.

I found this chapter more difficult to understand that other chapters of 365 Tao. I was able to get some insight from a quiltmaker’s blog, oddly enough. It almost sounded like he could be referring to the different roles we play in life. Sometimes I identify as a father, a worker, a writer, a musician, a lover, a reader, a music historian, etc. The trouble comes in when I’m wearing the wrong hat at the wrong time. Jack Kornfield covered this in Chapter 5: The Mysterious Illusion of the Self, in his book The Wise Heart.

I’m also reminded of Ecclesiastes 3 from the Bible (which Pete Seeger wrote into a song called “Turn! Turn! Turn!”, which The Byrds made into a hit song):

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

The Daily Stoic: Philosophy as Medicine of the Soul

Today, Ryan Holiday reminds us that although we get busy with work and making money, being creative, and being stimulated, we can drift away from philosophy. When we forget about philosophy, we get stressed and this injures us. We need to have a regimen and practice of philosophy. For me, that’s what this blog is all about. I would recommend to anyone owning a book like 365 Tao, The Daily Stoic, Daily Devotions (for Christians), or some kind of daily app like “Daily Buddha Quotes”. Some kind of philosophy or spirituality  that works for you, to restore you every morning and get you through the day. It’s a good practice.

Tomorrow is February 1st. New challenges:

  • Writing first draft of a book.
  • Couch to 5K running program.
  • 66-Day Challenge to spend 15 minutes per day on employment and money making opportunities.