Friday, November 27, 2015

Three Auspicious Wishes | Taoism.net




English: The Three Stars of Happiness, Wealth, and Longevity, c. 1500, Ming dynasty, ink and light colors on silk by Wang Zhao, Kimbell Art Museum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Once upon a time in ancient China, there was a legendary monarch by the name of Yao. One day, he traveled to the Hua region, where he came across a local man. The man said to him: “Greetings, great sage! Please accept my offering of auspicious wishes.”


Yao stopped to listen, so the man began: “I wish for the sage to have longevity.”


Yao replied: “I decline.”


The man offered another wish: “May the sage have great wealth.”


Again Yao did not accept: “I decline.”


The man offered one last wish: “May the sage have many sons.”


Yao was still unreceptive: “I decline.”


The man found Yao’s attitude quite strange. He said: “Longevity, wealth, and many sons are sought after by just about everyone. You alone have declined all three. Why?”


Yao explained: “The more children you have, the more you worry and fear for them; the more wealth you have, the more complexities you must manage; the longer you live, the more embarrassing mistakes you will make. These wishes do not help us cultivate virtues, so I must decline all of them.”


The man was disappointed. He said to Yao: “I thought you were a great sage, but now I see you are no more than an ordinary person. Heaven gave all of us life so we can get things done. Having more sons simply means you can accomplish more through them. What is there to be afraid of? Similarly, having great wealth means you can share more with everyone. What complexities do you have to manage?”


Yao had nothing to say, so the man continued: “The sage is comfortable living anywhere without extravagant luxuries, and enjoys simple meals without elaborate delicacies. He is like a bird flying through the air while leaving no trace. When the Tao is prevalent in the world, he enjoys the flourishing with everyone; when the Tao is forgotten in the world, he cultivates his own virtues in solitude. After a thousand years, perhaps he grows weary of the world and leaves it all behind. Perhaps he rides a white cloud and rises up to heaven, where he cannot be affected by the three mortal concerns and the problems of the physical body. Tell me: what embarrassing mistakes will he make?”


The man turned around to leave. Yao, sensing great wisdom in the man’s words, followed him to learn more. He called out: “Please, I would like to ask…”


The man no longer wished to talk. He waved at Yao to dismiss him: “Begone!”


The Tao


This story comes from the teachings of Chuang Tzu, and delivers uncommon wisdom for those who are ready for its message. It points out a misconception that many people have: the assumption that spiritual cultivation must be completely separate and apart from worldly success.


When we are trapped by this misconception, we think we have to rid ourselves of all desires. We should not want the things that most people want, because we are, after all, much more spiritual than they are. We must transcend to an ethereal level, while they roll around in the mud far below, engaged in all kinds of material pursuits.


This was Yao’s thinking in the beginning of the story, and it is easy to see how he might have acquired such ideas. Simplicity is a central concept in the Tao. We learn about the virtue of discarding clutter and doing more with less, so it seems only natural that we should have no interest in success as defined by society.


Chuang Tzu teaches us that this is actually not the Tao. He and other Tao sages lived full and fulfilling lives, filled to the brim with happiness both spiritual and material. To them, living a short and miserable life is no proof of piety or spiritual attainment. The only thing it really proves is a lack of skill in the art of living.


We can see the misconception at work most clearly with money. It is something many people perceive as somehow unclean or unsavory. Some see it as a necessary evil; others see it as the root of all evil. Relatively few see it like the Tao sages do: a tool that is neutral in itself, and can be used for good or bad depending on the hand that wields it. To the sages, the reason to achieve great wealth is not to satisfy greed, but to expand one’s capacity to give, so one can engage in charity or further worthwhile causes. It is as the man of Hua pointed out: great wealth simply means having more to share.


The thought process is similar when it comes to children. Yao assumed having less must be better in the Tao perspective, but the man pointed out that having more isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If one understands the Tao of parenting, and raises children who are intelligent, considerate, and well-versed in Tao principles, then one has made a significant contribution to society and the world. A life spent in creating and nurturing such a family is meaningful, joyous, and ultimately satisfying.


Some may think that the wish for a long life is equivalent to a fear of death, but this is not the case for Tao cultivators. The more we study the Tao, the more we understand that life and death are perfectly natural processes. There is no need to fear them, nor is there is a need to hurry through them. This means Tao cultivators take care of themselves physically, and constantly remind themselves to be mindful of health in order to honor the gift of life.


The story is quite specific about how to live like a sage. It is a life of simplicity that does not require luxuries or delicacies to be enjoyable. It is also a life of freedom where you are at home anywhere, either with company or just by yourself. Living this way maximizes the human potential, and takes you beyond the three mortal concerns of disease, age, and death.


The division between the spiritual and the non-spiritual is a powerful illusion, so there will always be people who fall under its spell. It may not be possible to convince them that the concept of success is not contrary to the Tao.


If you are not fooled by the illusion, then you can perceive the greater reality that all are one in the Tao. You understand that the human body can be just as divine a temple as any man-made structure, and the generation of wealth can be just as spiritual as any prayers or rituals. Congratulations! You belong with the advanced students of Chuang Tzu, and you are ready for even more of his uncommon wisdom.

Three Auspicious Wishes | Taoism.net

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Personality Crisis

The following video is a classic of my era...The NY Dolls' "Personality Crisis" aptly portrayed my late teen angst and identity crisis...and it still does some forty years later. I've come so far only to come full cycle to deal with the same sort of issues or the exact same issues as I did then. Surely, I've conqured and slayed most of my dragons and demons by now haven't I? Or have I just broke the record for stuffing issues down with an unhealthy chaser of sex & drugs & rock & roll for decades to only have them pop back up through the tar pits of my non existent conscience? At one point mental health history I was diagnosed as having "Anti-Social Personality Disorder" and I scoffed as I know of very few people more "social" than I am. As I sit here in a Motel 6 just off "the track" in the industrial section of Phoenix at 4:03am on a Sunday in October I watched this video with the same appreciation as I did back then and I say this to those of you who are coming up behind me... There is never a point of demarkation drawn in the sand or a checkered flag waved over a finish line in this life whereby you have "made it". At least not in my personal experience. I always thought there would come a time in my life where I'd cross some imaginary line and suddenly feel accomplished, rewarded and complete then I'd retire and wait to die in some over 55 double wide mobile home park across from a casino next door to an oriental rub & tug across from a pizza parlor and up the road from a Walmart...redneck purgatory, something that my inner snob abhors but my thin wallet and diminishing time on earth dictates to be the final reward given to a man of questionable morals and ethics such as I. I made a good living for many years by being the best lyer in Los Angeles, chased more skirts than all my high school buddies, coworkers and cell mates over the years combined. My generation, the not so noble Class of 76 is the first in American history to not surpass the finacial success of the prior generation and I'm sitting here close to broke and looking for the next gig and down to submitting applications for *gulp* retail sales positions. What's left down below the dreaded retail sales position? Only the whole life agent or call center manager positions. On that bleak note I will leave you with this approprately titled diddy of my youth...enjoy and see you after church fuggers!

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Night Weighs Heavy On His Guilty Mind.....

Song says it all...the night weighs heavy on his guilty mind...know this to my core...been at it hard now 42 years and with the exception of what's left of what little conscience I was born with.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Newly Converted

Over the years there have been many, many of my friends who crash, burn and clean up their lifestyle via rehab, jail, or a combo and for the most part remain my friends. My recreational activities do not define me nor do they preclude associating with those who may or may not share my lifestyle choices. There have been a few who have done a complete 180 in their lives within the past few years and I'm happy for them but I have a very low tolerance for those who preach to others. Live and let live and if I want anoyne's opinion I'll ask for it.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Price of 45 Years of This Life

I started smoking and drinking at the age of five (yes 5). My parents used to have a bridge club with three other couples and once every four months they would host. They all drank and smoked (it was 1963) and my brother Tom and I would wait up in our bedroom for them to breakup and head outside to say goodnight and get into their big Chryslers, Buicks and Mercurys with fins and call it a night. Tom and I only had like 5 minutes to race downstairs to forage for leftovers while they were outside....Tom went for the leftover pies, cakes and candies while I went for the stogies, butts and drinks.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Miller on Ego

“I’m an egotist, but I’m not selfish. There’s a difference. I’m a neurotic, I guess. I can’t stop thinking about myself. It isn’t that I think myself so important... I simply can’t think about anything else, that’s all. If I could fall in love with a woman that might help some. But I can’t find a woman who interests me.” ― Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Curse of being an Empath

Going through life as I have with the "gift" or "curse" of feeling other people's emotions with the majority of them being negative emotions does wear on me. I rarely get the ability to experience my own emotions because I walk around with a sack of other's emotions on my shoulder all the time and that has resulted with my own emotional maturity being severeley stunted and the only way I've been able to get in touch with my emotions has been through experimentation and exploration with illicit substances. Some work better than others, and some have even more negative affect on me but now after 45 years of self medicating with every known illicit substance known to man I sit here before you at the same emotional maturity level of when I started my experimentations. Hi I'm Stephen's emotions and I'm twelve.
Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.
- Proverbs 22:15

Friday, April 3, 2015

A song for all the sailors who've run a foul at sea

Good Friday....Lou's version anyway



He was lying banged and battered, skewered and bleeding
talking crippled on the Cross
Was his mind reeling and heaving hallucinating
fleeing what a loss

The things he hadn't touched or kissed his senses
slowly stripped away
Not like Buddha not like Vishnu
life wouldn't rise through him again

I find it easy to believe
that he might question his beliefs
The beginning of the Last Temptation
Dime Story Mystery

The duality of nature, Godly nature,
human nature splits the soul
Fully human, fully divine and divided
the great immortal soul

Split into pieces, whirling pieces, opposites
attract
From the front, the side, the back
the mind itself attacks

I know the feeling, I know it from before
descartes through Hegel belief is never sure
Dime Store Mystery, Last Temptation

I was sitting drumming thinking thumping pondering
the Mysteries of Life
Outside the city shrieking screaming whispering
the Mysteries of Life

There's a funeral tomorrow
at St. Patrick's the bells will ring for you
Ah, what must you have been thinking
when you realized the time had come for you

I wish I hadn't thrown away my time
on so much Human and so much less Divine
The end of the Last Temptation
The end of a Dime Store Mystery 

Ok...enough outward introspection...

Going to stop focusing on the eternal and tell you all my story, why I'm like how I am, what got me here. Just know that this is it for me...this is the way I'm going to be and that my purpose in this world has been realized in my opinion. My primary purpose was to be the only male of my generation to procreate another male who in turn did as well so Cam and Hendrix were my primary purpose followed up with the other end of the gene pool by my being there for Pop those last 8.5 years of his life in Arizona. I'm a genetic link between the past and future which is what it boils down to for all of us if we strip it all down and pull back and look at mankind in proper context. To do so just go out sometime away from city lights and lay down and look into the night sky. What you did for a living to get through your time here is immaterial, what kind of car you drove a joke, how big your house was or for that matter how big your dick was is all bullshit and totally irrelevant to the 1,000th power. So when I say I feel a great sense of pride in doing just those two things which continued the species two more generations while helping to ease the journey of the previous one is more than some people have accomplished so the fact that I'm 56 and "should" be thinking of retiring and then sitting around watching Mash reruns all day waiting to die is just plain whacked in my opinion. I'm here to do those two things and keep this genetic chain letter moving along and all the rest is just bullshit. Cynical? Jaded? Perhaps, or is it brutally honest and pragmatic? I say the later and you are free to call it anything you damned well please and I'll stand toe to toe with anyone who disagrees with me and fight anyone who says your wrong. We are all masters of our own reality and captains of our own vessels in this sea of human existence even if your's is fucked up as compared to mine. ;-) I'll still defend your right to have your own opinion. That's what my internal gyroscope tells me to do. We all were given one so we all know in our gut what's right and what's wrong....if we stay still a second, close our eyes to remove outside distractions. Every time I did something in my life that got me in trouble with the law I knew in my gut it was wrong. I just didn't care what some group of other beings thought was the line not to be crossed. I don't answer to you, nor do you answer to me! I didn't sign any contract at the time of birth stating that I agreed to follow any man made laws and I never intentionally harmed another human being or animal in my life and don't intend on doing so. I followed that gyroscope in my gut and even when I was caught driving 60 miles an hour above the man made speed limit out in the middle of the desert in the middle of the night with not a solitary soul out there other than some kid half my age who's job it is to sit out there alone all night in case somebody speeds/ Why? So "society" can get some money out of me. I never had an accident, was fully in control, enjoying the exhilaration I get by driving fast. I'll pay your fines or sit in traffic school which is a joke but you'll never ever get me to be remorseful for breaking your law. That's not God's law. No matter what or who you consider to be God, maybe no God at all if that's your choice, whomever it is for you not one of you can tell me your "God" said to you "thou shall not speed in the desert at night" so fuck your speed limits. I conscientiously object to them so there. What's that you say? I can only conscientiously object to going to war? Damn, too late I already volunteered to do that have was honorably discharged decades ago. If that means I'm "antisocial" then oh well, guess I'm "antisocial" then. I can live with that, why can't you? If you didn't have guys like me to pay fines there's be a lot less public services for you couch potato types out there who I'll label "hyper social" how that? Ok, 0k I know....get to the sex parts. I will so with out further adieu here is my story and I'm putting it out here mainly with the hope that some of you will feel a sense of affinity with something I write here and not feel like you're broken because you feel like that too. I've been the go to guy as far back as I can remember, at least as far back as 1st grade for sure. Ever since then thing have just come easy to me. I win radio call in contests, I win student elections, I get picked for special projects, I get A's and B's with never studying, I win in sports you name it. I'm one of those people that everyone pretty much likes or at least tolerates even though I have a classic in your face Type A personality. I hail from New York so toss that on top too yet I'm well accepted in all social circles, from the straight up hood to ballrooms and boardrooms. One of my early mentors told me "Kid? You got the gift of gab....things will always come easy for you!" I doubted him at the time but when reflecting back on my life now at the age of 56 I'll be damned if he wasn't right. He was also the one that gave me one particular piece of advise that I've pulled out of my bag of tricks more times than I care to admit but it was..."Walk into any room like you own it and more times than not you will." I've had a series of mentors through out my life beginning with my Dad who for someone who came from pretty much poverty in Altoona, PA during the Great Depression had a somewhat elitist attitude about him. We lived in a lower middle class neighborhood as he was very frugal so we were the "rich family" by comparison to the rest of the neighborhood but as a painfully thin white boy with glasses in a mixed blue collar neighborhood I had t0o come up with a set of survival skills pretty quick or get daily beat downs from kids half my age so I did just that. I found ways to be accepted and even lauded within the gang of delinquents who inhabited my hood. Being small and wire I was a natural to shimmy down through basement windows to then run up and unlock the door for the rest of the guys who would ransack the homes of people from the next neighborhood over as well as the first one boosted over a fence to retrieve lost softballs, footballs or Frisbee's. I had indeed found ways to make myself useful to the crowd so things went pretty easy for me while the rest in my age group got beat, ridiculed, harassed and robbed by the older guys pretty much as a daily matter of course so my "peers" were the tough guys that were a few years older than me so I did things they were doing only at a younger age. By the time I was 14 and hanging out with guys who were shaving, driving, drinking and had girlfriends I found a new way to make myself indispensable. I was their "test pilot" whenever they encountered a new type of booze or drug they had never tried. When this occurred they would feed me massive quantities of whatever substance they wanted go try and watch what happened to me before they tried it themselves. I thought this was great most of the time because I got really large amounts of substances for free but as Dr. Hunter S. Thompson so wisely observed: "The Edge... there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over." I can certainly qualify as an "edge explorer" from the age of 14 on to well, to this day if I'm honest with you and at this point there shouldn't be too many people to whom that should find shocking by any stretch of the imagination. I've been pulled over my cops more than once in my life that when queried as to what prompted them to detain me stated simply "You just looked bad". To this day, no matter how cleaned up I get, wearing an Armani suit with hair cut short and the finest luggage made I always get the "Ummm Sir could you please step out of line and place your bags on that table over there." when entering the security line at any airport. Some might say the creases in my face are like a road map of where my mind has travelled

Saturday, February 28, 2015

For Donna

I'll be your mirror Reflect what you are, in case you don't know I'll be the wind, the rain and the sunset The light on your door to show that you're home When you think the night has seen your mind That inside you're twisted and unkind Let me stand to show that you are blind Please put down your hands 'Cause I see you I find it hard to believe you don't know The beauty that you are But if you don't let me be your eyes A hand in your darkness, so you won't be afraid When you think the night has seen your mind That inside you're twisted and unkind Let me stand to show that you are blind Please put down your hands 'Cause I see you I'll be your mirror

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tonight I reunited with my 17 year old heart....39 years after I lost it.

Tonight I talked to the object of my teenage desires after nearly forty years and we laughed and cried for about three hours worth of text messaging where I confessed my secret to her. I even confessed about why I was always dropping pencils in any class we shared and we caught up on the events, triumphs and tragedies that we've both endured over the past four decades and I have to say that it was one of the most cathartic experiences of my life for it allowed me to feel my heart at 17 again, if only for a moment or two, if only in a brief connection with myself so long ago and far away down this rocky path I've been on so long I nearly had snuffed out every drop of simple, pure and innocent emotion out of what has long ago turned into a hardened, leathery, black and barely functional pump failing to keep up with all the junk that's been tossed into the aquarium of my soul.
What, if anything, becomes of it will be seen I guess but the first love of my life came back after forty years I'd like to think because her heart could sense mine was on it's last gasp and sputtering out into darkness forever as should be evident to any readers of earlier posts in this blog. This ship was listing hard to starbord and drowning in the murky green ooze of it's own self abuse all these years and our talk served to flip the switch back on to the pump and it's a little bit cleaner than it was yesterday and I got to feel that young, dumb and full of....you know...heart of my youth long forgotten but happily not gone (yet). I found this quote and now dedicate it to the first, young love of this aging old man's life....Lucille
I choose to love you in silence, for in silence I found no rejection, I choose to love you in my dreams, for in my dreams no one owns you but me.