Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A short rant

I try not to rant to much here on my blog, and instead bring you informed and thoughtful posts that relate to the Tao. I'm afraid this is one exception, I will keep it short, though.

I was asked yesterday if I would be attending my nephew's graduation. This seems like a simple question, what could be wrong with that? The problem is, my nephew is 5 years old and "graduating" from pre-school. I was baffled. I innocently asked, "What was the criteria for them to graduate?" The answer was a simple, "Nothing, he's 5, what do you expect?"

I am all for celebrating accomplishments, achievements, etc. But I cannot imagine sending my kid through this ceremony where they had all the typical graduation ceremony fare. I didn't go, but I've seen pictures. They were all dressed up, lined up and received a diploma, giving their teacher a hug. Perhaps someone can tell me the positives of something like this. My nephew did not have to accomplish anything in particular, did not have to be able prove what he learned. Not a single student failed to "graduate." Some of these parents had parties, gave gifts and did all the typical graduation things.

Call me cynical, but I can't help but think that celebrations like this might be contributing to the bloated sense of entitlement I see running rampant in younger generations. Webster defines graduation as, "the award or acceptance of an academic degree or diploma" and I just don't think this qualifies. What must my nephew think of the fact that his dad recently graduated college?

Okay, I'm done. Sorry for those who love these things, it just bothers me. Now that I have a little one on the way, I wonder how I will handle this type of thing.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Forgive me

I hope you will all forgive the indulgence, but I'd like to have a countdown to my due date.  I was trying to find one that would go on the side bar, for so far this is the best I could do.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Learning to Let Go

It may not be the central theme of the Tao Te Ching, but learning to let things go is certainly a topic of choice throughout the pages.

I will offer a few examples from the popular Stephen Mitchell translation:

"The Master stays behind; that is why she is ahead.
She is detached from all things; that is why she is one with them.
Because she has let go of herself, she is perfectly fulfilled."
                                                            ~ Verse 7 Excerpt

"If you want to accord with the Tao, just do your job, then let go."
                                                            ~ Verse 24 Excerpt

“If you want to be a great leader, you must learn to follow the Tao.
Stop trying to control.
Let go of fixed plans and concepts, and the world will govern itself.

The more prohibitions you have, the less virtuous people will be.
The more weapons you have, the less secure people will be.
The more subsidies you have, the less self-reliant people will be.

Therefore the Master says:
I let go of the law, and people become honest.
I let go of economics, and people become prosperous.
I let go of religion, and people become serene.
I let go of all desire for the common good, and the good becomes common as grass.”
~ Verse 57

“Nothing is impossible for him.
Because he has let go, he can care for the people's welfare as a mother cares for her child.”
~ Verse 59 Excerpt

Now with all that being said, it is clear to me how important learning to let things go is to the process of Tao cultivation.  Unfortunately, this is one thing I struggle with on a daily basis.  I have attempted meditation, which works for some things.  Practicing Tai Chi seems to help me center and be in the moment.  Unfortunately, it seems everything I have let go comes crashing back eventually.

Because I believe this is important, when I saw a tool that was designed to help me let go, I had to have one.  The tool is called a Buddha Board.  It is simple, yet so profound.

The main idea is that you may use water to paint on the canvas.  It creates a lovely ink style brush stroke that can create beautiful pictures.  Being a quote unquote “art person”, this is right up my alley.  Here’s the trick though: That masterpiece disappears just minutes later, revealing another blank canvas.  It’s poetic, and I find myself using it often.

When something is bothering me, I either paint a symbolic representation of my troubles or just write out a word.  I watch the canvas and think about whatever it is.  In that moment, I allow myself to obsess.  But then, as the ink fades, I also allow it to fade from my mind.  It’s the ultimate in visualization of a complex concept and I absolutely love it!