Here and Now




Summer comes slowly to us here in rainy Oregon. It often rains right up til the fourth of July. Everyone wonders, sick of the dark rainy days and wishing for the sun, when and if it will ever happen. Yet it always does.


Lots of death coming to lots of people we know – partners having major strokes, dads dying of cancer one week after diagnosis, old friends on their way out into the great void. It reminds us that things can change in a moment. One moment we’re riding high, the next we are on our knees. It happens to everyone. As the famous country singer Hank Williams sang, “No one gets out of here alive.” But really, we would rather it come another day, another moment.


Laozi says:


Heaven and earth or not benevolent.

They treat all things as straw dogs.

The sage is not benevolent.
She treats all other beings as sraw dogs.

The space between heaven and earth

is like a bellows.

It is empty yet never exhausted.

Always in motion,

yet always producing more.

Fewer words are better than many.

It is best to abide in our true nature.



As Daoists, we don’t believe in a personalized godhead who will take care of all our troubles if we just go down on our knees to him/her. We realize that Dao is deeply impersonal while we live in a deeply personal world. Nature is impersonal, it doesn’t really get too worked up when it delivers a flood or a tornado. Straw dogs were used in ancient Chinese ritual, thrown into the fire to take away the negativity of the people. All that negativity going up in flames, leaving behind the positive clearness of the now. Of course the next moment can be filled with negativity yet Dao is always in motion, never exhausted. Our lives are but small drops in an infinite sea but when they are over we are the sea.


Don’t talk too much, says the Old Boy. Use fewer words, less energy, long and deep breaths, no sense in asking for more than we can handle, no sense in trying to control every minute of every life. Best to abide in our true undying nature. That way, we never suffer loss but embrace it willingly.










In Chapter 9 of the Daode Jing Laozi says,


Overfilling a vessel is not as good as stopping before it is filled.

Oversharpen a blade and it will lose its edge.

Pile up gold and jade

and it will be impossible to guard it.

In going after rank and titles

in an arrogant and haughty way

you will bring about your own downfall.

Withdraw when the work is done.

This is the way of Dao.


It is so easy to overdo things in our modern fast-paced world. Whether it is food, drink, sex, work, exercise or even meditation – these are all opportunites to over do. It is the opposite of what Laozi teaches – the Way of wu wei (not doing). Of course, what one person experiences of overdoing may not be too much for another person. In order for us to really follow the Way of wu wei we need to learn just what are our limits and how not to go beyond them. This takes time and attention, two things that are also problematical for modern people.

Read More

IMG_0662There is a famous passage from Laozi that says:

A journey of a thousand miles
begins with the first step.

That first step is a big one however!

He also says:

Those who stand on tiptoes
cannot balance themselves.
Those who take too long a stride
cannot walk far.
Those who show off
are not enlightened.
Those who are too aggressive
will not accomplish anything great.
Those who boast too much
will not endure.
Those who follow Dao call these things
over-consumption and useless activity.

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Opening Like a Flower


Solala’s Blog for week of 3/11/13

The Daphne is blooming, sending its magical fragrance into the air, flowers are popping up in the middle of the lawn and our beloved grandmother willow tree is greening more each day. It seems that winter is transforming into spring, always miraculous, tho I have seen it happen countless times (well, 62 anyway)! I love the changing the seasons, as many of us do. What is it that makes us so happy and excited about each round of the year? Winter in the Pacific Northwest is pretty cloudy and rainy, even dark. Many people around here go into a deep funk when the sun goes away but I guess I am just used to it and it doesn’t really bother me. Yet I am always overjoyed when spring comes round again and things begin budding and blooming.

The path of Dao is at once the universal pageant of the constellations and the budding of each new leaf in the spring. It is the constant round of life and death all that falls in between. It resides in us and we reside in it. It is the source as well as the end of our being. It neither judges nor condemns but continually blesses, in all moments – an unending cycle of change and renewal.

I just found out yesterday that my book on spiritual relationship, Sacred Union, will be published by Sounds True, the home of many fine authors, teachers and musicians! I feel my own inner spring buds beginning to unfurl and push their way up to the sun!

It will soon be time to begin getting the garden ready for planting. Of course, as Daoists, our own internal cultivation is a steady and ongoing project. Our spiritual seedlings need to be take care of carefully so that they may grow to become great and beautiful flowers. Yet too much interfering and things may not grow well at all.

Laozi says,

Those who desire to control heaven and earth

will not succeed.

The universe is sacred.

One cannot grasp it or control it.

Those who attempt to control it

Would ruin it.


Speaking without Speaking

one leaf

Solala’s Blog for the week of 2/25

My computer died a week and a half ago and I have been mourning it ever since. I have been without a computer and have had to borrow my girlfriend’s as a back up. Unfortunately, none of my programs are on it and I cannot do the usual projects. It is amazing how much I depend on it!

Of course I don’t need a computer do practice qigong or meditation. These things are very old-age and don’t required any special equipment or clothing. Just go within, plug into the great unending, ever unfolding Dao and there you are! Laozi says:

Can you hold the body and spirit as one?
Can you avoid their separation?
Concentrating your qi
And becoming pliant,
can you become like a newborn baby?
Clearing your mind and
contemplating the profound
can you remain unflawed?
In understanding all things
can you remain apart from them?
Can you bear the fruit without taking possession of it?
Can you do the work without taking credit?
Can you act without taking control?
Can you lead without dominating?
Can you speak without speaking?
Can you sit without moving?

One of the things that drew me to Daoism is the emphasis on using the energetics of the body to go beyond the body. Daoists fully inhabit their body yet also explore what lies beyond our mortal shell. But it does take a willingness to “sit without moving” and to learn to “speak without speaking.”

It can take a long time, as it has with me, to really understand these kinds of principles and then put them into practice. It can take a lot of effort to reach the state of wu wei or effortlessness. It seems so very simple to follow the we wei way but in the beginning as least, it takes a tremendous act of will to open ourselves up to the state of being able to “hold our body and spirit as one.” But the rewards are huge and the journey is as exciting as the goal.

My girlfriend Shanti and I had breakfast this sunday with our lovely friend Tegra. She shared with us her “not to do” list she does almost every day. Such as “Don’t get uptight about not getting too much done today.” If that isn’t the wu wei way I don’t know what is!

So I am working on my “not to do”  list this week as well. Tomorrow the new computer arrives and I get to immerse myself in getting caught up on projects. But I will take my time, linger awhile on things and feelings “in between” and hopefully, experience some of that advice of the old master on “doing without taking control” and, every once in awhile, practice “speaking without speaking” and “sitting without moving.”