To be a Taoist means many things to many people. To be a practitioner of Contemporary Taoism simply means to have realised that we are all minute parts of an indescribably large Whole (the Tao), and to choose therefore to 'Flow Like Water' and live in a spontaneous, natural manner. This blog is about: Personal Growth / Spiritual Development as guided by the principles of Eastern Philosophy, particularly modern philosophical Taoism; Developing constructive habits and achieving success with minimal effort; Meditation - Taoist, Zen or otherwise. See 'What In Lao Tzu's Name is a Contemporary Taoist?'

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Upcoming Moose Gigs

Yo - just a heads up for any interested, you can catch me singing some tunes from my forthcoming CD (which I have actually booked studio time to record in October) at two gigs coming up:

1) The Grace Emily Hotel w- Brillig, Adelaide, Friday September 22.

2) The Wesley Ann, High St., Northcotte, Melbourne, Tuesday October 3, w- Tully.

Flow Like Water...

Check out my meditation website

Download my free music here.

Warning: This post will probably bore you to tears!

Regular Contemporary Taoist readers may have noticed that I have been posting less frequently to this blog recently and indeed that most of the posts I have put up lately have basically been of stuff that was pre-written. The reason, for those very few who care, is that I have been flapping about a bit wondering what to do next. This may sound familiar to those (again very few) who pay attention to my ramblings. Anyway, in order to get myself 'unstuck' I have decided to decrease the amount of projects that I have on the go.

So for now all I am going to keep going is:

1) My job, at LivingNow magazine as it is both necessary and not evil.

2) My monthly "Contemporary Taoist" article with LivingNow magazine, as this is nothing to be sneezed at, given that the magazine has about 400, 000 readers / month around Australia.

3) This blog, this half topic-focused, half self-indulgent-rambling blog. For better or for worse, I might as well roll with it while the companion article is getting published.

4) Music: Actually this should go first as it is officially my numero-uno project right now. To help get the music ball rolling (again) I am in fact starting a blog about it, called, stay tuned for that.

5) Anything else that naturally happens. Let's stay Taoist about this!

Therefore, I am officially suspending all of the following activities until later notice and/or the occurrence of above point 5).

A) Meditation Teaching - this is a passion, and a very real career opportunity, but I need to give it a rest for a while. It will become a focus again later though, of this I have little doubt.

B) Any other (personal) websites/blogs besides this blog, the new music blog, the already established (but horrendously ugly and static), (similarly useless really but might as well keep it up for now). This means that I am pulling down, reluctantly, but I have no need for it right now. I love that name, "rebelzen", and I will use it again soon, but not sure for what. Right now I feel like I have too many names for what is essentially the same project. Will for now also keep this and this up for your listening pleasure.

C) Novel writing *Gasp!* This was my main thing for the last year or so until about three months ago when it started to take a back seat again. But this is ok, it will be back, I simply can't do everything at once. I do have an almost finished novel which needs one more rewrite. Then I will get it out there somehow or another.

Anyway, like I always say...

Flow Like Water...

Check out my meditation website

Download my free music here.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Kookaburra and the Crow

I am lucky enough to have a monthly print magazine article that goes under the same title as this blog (see link in the sidebar). Of course, most of those who visit this blog do not live in Australia, so I have been meaning to post the print articles here for a while. Now's a good time and I might as well do it in order. This is the first article I had published. It now seems a bit naive really ... but that's okay:

The Kookaburra and the Crow

By Seamus Anthony*
First published December 2003 LivingNow magazine. 2nd published March 2005 LivingNow.

Change is unavoidable, no one can escape it. Busy struggling against the current of the Universal Flow, people make life miserable for themselves by scurrying around trying to build 'Castles Made Of Sand'. They forget that these structures always get washed away by the Great Tide of Inevitability. To paraphrase the Tao Te Ching -all things arise from the Tao, and all things descend back into the Tao. Wise beings know that riches gathered on the physical plane cannot be taken to heaven, and that heaven lies within. It is within that we must gather and store treasures. Here lies the way to Happiness.

I was walking across a bridge, on my way to work one morning, when I heard from above the unmistakable laugh of a Kookaburra. Stopping and looking up, I indeed saw one of these fine native birds sitting proudly along the horizontal section of a streetlight pole. Seeing as I was crossing the Princes Bridge in the heart of Melbourne, this struck me as both unusual and delightful. As I observed the Kookaburra chuckling away, I too found myself beginning to laugh. I was laughing because the sun was shining, because the Kookaburra's laughing was contagious, and because after many adventures, I had finally learned how to be happy.

I continued to giggle as I shifted my gaze from the Kookaburra to the blue sky beyond, then to the sparkling cityscape of Melbourne that lined the Yarra River, and finally to the people of the city who were all bustling along the bridge at a great speed. However, as I met the eyes of the people, I saw that none of them were laughing at all. They all looked so very serious that I momentarily lost my feelings of mirth and felt their pain, for I know only too well what it means to feel confusion in the mind, sadness in the heart, and agony in the soul. Perhaps a little naively, I pointed up to the Kookaburra on the pole, hoping to brighten up a passer-by's day, but the people did not look up. They were each too privately consumed in the details of their busy lives to notice a happy man or a laughing bird.

Then, I noticed that the Kookaburra had also ceased to laugh. I looked up to see that a large black Crow had taken a dislike to the Kookaburra and was trying to scare him away. The evil looking Crow squawked and flapped at the Kookaburra for all he was worth, but the Kookaburra did not seem particularly bothered. Remembering that I had read somewhere that crows are a symbol for Change, I found it heartening to see the way the Kookaburra dealt with the Crow's attempt to scare him away. The Kookaburra, it seemed, was a wise bird who knew that crows, just like Change, may seem frightening and unwelcome at first, but are in fact just harmless yet unavoidable beasts.

Like the scavenging Crow, Change feeds on the decaying remains of the past in order to allow for the unfolding of the future, and is best dealt with by remaining calm. This is exactly what the Kookaburra did.

Standing with my neck craned on that bridge, I watched as the Crow flapped and shrieked at the other bird until it could do so no longer. Dismayed at its inability to scare the wise Kookaburra, the Crow flew dejectedly away. The Kookaburra, who had not moved a muscle in the presence of the Crow, visibly relaxed. As the Crow disappeared into the distance, the self-assured Kookaburra once again began to laugh at the top of its voice as if nothing had happened. And boosted by the free lesson from nature, I bounced off to work full of joy and love for the world.

*Originally published under my birth name 'Seamus Ennis' (Anthony is my middle name which I have taken on as my pen name to avoid being confused with my namesake, the great Irish musician.)

Flow Like Water...

Check out my meditation website

Download my free music here.
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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Sunday Morning Moose

Warning: Rambling, self-indulgent, probably totally boring, what-I-had-for-breakfast type post ahead...

Excellent, it is 10:30am and I am still in my jim-jams. Sweet.

Ok, where were we? Oh that's right, talking about ME. So, I have been flapping around like a flappy-thing lately since the meditation workshop. Actually I have been mainly preoccupied with my job at LivingNow magazine, which I am happy to say I am finding both challenging and satisfying at the moment, and with playing my guitar and writing new songs. I recently posted about receiving a sign from the Universe to get back into my music more seriously, in fact as my number one priority. So once I had the meditation workshop, which was a challenge for me to pull off, I have been mostly sitting with my Maton electric-acoustic practicing, and also jamming (weird though it sounds) with my uncle, Tony. Not many people can say they are starting a band with their uncle right? Well, I am. Cos he is a dude, with way cooler hair than me, who rips it up on the bass, and has some sweet toys to boot, including a prototype Maton electric guitar which I get to rock out on - sweet!

I used to plan a lot, but recently, according to the principles of Contemporary Taoism, and in accordance with my more recent Rebel Zen epiphany, I have pretty much abandoned planning in favour of just spontaneously doing whatever the hell I like. Therefore anything I say today about 'what it is I am doing or going to do' may (as the few regular readers of this blog could attest) be obsolete a day, week or month down the track. Having said that, and safe in the knowledge that at least one person I know really loves lists, here is one of my occasional, no particular order, mostly-for-my-own-benefit, lists of:

'What it is I am doing or going to do'

  • Music - first and foremost. For a while there I was putting writing and meditation teaching and website/blog stuff and work ahead of this but, as I said, signs from the Universe and all that. Frankly, I am fucking excited again about my music. I actually believe in it again which is nice.

  • Getting pretty into my job. Learning lots and generally digging the challenge and the people.

  • Working up a new blog, as it happens, which I will tell you about soon enough.

  • Getting the odd phone call about meditation workshops but not really knowing when I am going to do another one. I guess I will decide that soon enough, but I don't feel the need to push this right now. Meanwhile, if you're in Melbourne (Australia) and you want to go to a meditation class, you could contact my mates Matt from the Melbourne Meditation Centre, or Paul from Meditation Solutions. These two dudes are not only nice blokes who have been really welcoming (and tolerant) of me and my sporadic, 'frivolous' forays into the local non-guru style meditation scene, but are also far more professional (i.e. they actually are professionals) than I am.

  • Intending to record a CD of my best tunes. More on that soon, but meanwhile or alternatively...

  • Intending to record a meditation CD. More on that soon, but meanwhile...

  • Intending to do some more gigs. I have one booked in for Adelaide at The Grace Emily supporting my mates Brillig. September 22 I think. Mum'll be stoked.

  • Supposedly writing two new novels at once. Both of them are half, nay, quarter, way through the first draft, but I haven't done much about them lately. Must do though...

  • New "Contemporary Taoist" article coming out each month in LivingNow magazine. September will see the last of my backlog of articles that I wrote all in a flurry a while back, so I'll have to write some more of them soon. Also will get around to uploading the old articles to the web soon for your reading pleasure...

  • Wondering what the hey to do with the one novel I have 'finished'. I will rewrite it one last time very soon and then will probably (but not sure) a) submit it to a few publishers b) failing that self-publish, or c) turn it into a "blook" which frankly, excites me a little, but that's probably because I am both as prone to the seductions of the fad as the next dork down the road and also impatient and generally wary of the corporate world.

  • Submitting some of my short stories around to see if I can break the situation of having only had my non-fiction published, and in one (admittedly fine) publication.

Anyway I am bored of writing this post now so bye and have a nice day and if you got to the bottom of this post then really, you probably need to get out more, as do I, hence Dude the dog staring at me with -goddamn-it-you-fat-bartsard-take-me-for-a-walk-eyes.

Flow Like Water...

Check out my meditation website

Download my free music here.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Tao of Google

Gotta laugh at some of the searches that bring people to this blog sometimes. Very recent funny search terms that have brought the unwary to The Contemporary Taoist are:

"Bruce Lee meditating"

"Tom Waits takes Chinese herbs"


"How to pronounce kiev"

oh and someone from Canada (whom I presume doesn't know me as I live in Australia ... but who knows?) googled:

"Seamus marijuana"

*cough* excu-use me...


Flow Like Water...

Join me for a meditation workshop!

Download my free music here.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Amazing Mystical Beans

This afternoon I was munching my way through my lunch when I slipped and flicked a forkful of baked-beans and sauce all over my jumper and trousers. I experienced a flash of irritation. This was quickly replaced by calm amusement. I was at home by myself – messing up my clothes mattered even less than it usually would, which would not be much.

As I pondered the typically unremarkable sight of several squishy beans and blobs of red-orange goo, arranged randomly on my off-white sweater, I had what I will reluctantly call a Mystic Moment. I am reluctant to call it this because it makes me sound like I have tickets on myself. In order to dispel this impression, allow me to willingly point out that I am an utter dork with baked-bean stains on my jumper who knows for a fact that everybody has these insightful moments, even those who don’t much think in terms of the spiritual.

‘Describe this Mystic Moment,’ I hear you ask. ‘What did it look like?’

Like squished beans on a jumper, only kind of magical.

Even though we all have them, Mystic Moments are hard to describe. The closest I can come is to waffle about the rare small moments where the mundane is seen through a prism of the fantastic. A ‘moment of clarity’ where the normal appears Divine; the small appears enormous; the subtle becomes obvious; the truth becomes apparent; the God in all common things becomes easy to see. It is a feeling of peace and transcendence; the exact feeling that some of us spend hours (even days or weeks) trying to recreate through determined spiritual practice -rituals, meditation, prayer - sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

What is this? Why is it that I sometimes meditate on the Tao for hours only to feel nothing but ordinary? And why suddenly, when I am not looking for it, do I see the Divine, clear as day, in the most ordinary of things? And why is it often so hard to deliberately capture this sensation again? Or to describe it in words?

My only answer is that it is not that we have seen the Divine, but that the Divine has chosen to reveal itself to us at this moment. It reminds me of an inspirational saying in a frame that hangs on the wall at my parents house:

‘Happiness is like a butterfly; if you chase it, it flies away; when you turn your attention to other things, it comes and gently lands on your shoulder.’

I remember having one of these moments was a boy. I was riding in the back seat of my mother’s red Vauxhall Viva. Mum was trying to negotiate a right turn across an intersection. Never a fan of driving, she was having a hard time of it while I was blissfully day-dreaming in the back seat.

Questions arose like mushrooms in a hurry. How do we know that all of this is real? All of a sudden it all seemed more like a dream than reality. And yet everyone was always so serious about everything. Obey the rules or else. Be good or God will get upset, and so on. How did we know that God even existed? He didn't seem to be around much. And if we didn't know if God really existed or not, and if 'reality' as we knew it seemed unreal and like a dream, what proof did we have that things are what we have decided they are?

I probably wasn’t yet aware of the word ‘arbitrary’, but if I had been, it may have come to mind.

Naturally, I decided to ask Mum for some clarification.

'Mum, is life real?'

Mum, clenching white-knuckled to the steering wheel, still hadn’t managed to turn right.

'I don't know, and I don't care!' came the strangled reply. This was not the answer I was hoping for, yet I felt very peaceful, as if asking these questions were in itself enough.

The second time that I remember having this experience was just after I had begun to experiment with meditation about nine years ago. I was sitting at the train station in the Melbourne suburb of Windsor, staring at the bricks on the other side of the tracks when suddenly everything seemed incredible. I was overtaken with a feeling of intense bliss. Coupled with this feeling came a difference of vision – as in the way things actually looked through my eyes. Looking at all the simple, inanimate, everyday objects around me - like the rocks between the tracks, the litter spread here and there, the bricks, the benches, the rubbish bins, the chewing gum trodden into the bitumen - I saw an energy, a connectedness, a oneness, a mystery, a beauty, a love inherent in all these things.

And then I caught my train, and the Mystic Moment was gone.

I thought I might be either going a pleasant variety of crazy, or being a bit of an egotist at the best of times, that I must have suddenly become enlightened. But I soon felt far from this, and, asking around, I discovered that just about everybody I knew, the spiritual and the cynics alike, had experienced similar, fleeting moments of incredible transcendent clarity – it is apparently a common phenomena.
If you haven’t experienced this, then I have one word for you: Meditation. Give it a go.

These Mystic Moments are amazing, but for every one of these moments, we all have thousands that feel far from transcendental. Some feel so ordinary they are almost intolerable. At these times we are asleep, we have disconnected from the Universal Consciousness, forgotten to see the world through the wondrous eyes of a child. Sudden flashes of Divine Consciousness are reminders. Reminders to wake up. To stop projecting forward or backward in time and just be in the moment. To remember that this is it. The present moment is all we have, and all we will ever have.

Mystic Moments are a gift, sent to remind us that we are extremely lucky to be given the opportunity that is life, that this life we have is not going to last forever, and that the Divine is everywhere – even in the baked-bean stains on my jumper!

Flow Like Water...

read more about meditation

Download my free music here.
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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Do You Subscribe?

Like many people, I am not a geek. I am always miles behind the geek crowd when it comes to tech stuff right?

However, compared to a lot of the people in the so-called real world I am like this uber-geek just cause two years ago I knew what a blog was and now I know what RSS is, and even use it.

Anyway, my point is, do you subscribe to this blog? Cos if you don't, and you come back a lot, why not? I use bloglines, cos it seemed like the blogger of RSS (nice and easy) and I can't be botherd with tech stuff, but I forgot I had put up the email subscription thing in the sidebar, and just now subscribed to that myself, which is part of the reason why I am posting now, so I can see what it looks like in my email when it comes through. That was a pretty long sentence huh?

If you do already use RSS or whatever, and this has appeared in your list, you probably hate me right now for clogging up your life with this totally inane, off-topic post. To which I say, chill out man, nobody made you read all the way to the bottom of the page, did they now ... maybe you need to, like, meditate or something, so you can learn to ...

Flow Like Water...

Join me for a meditation workshop!

Download my free music here.

Meditation Workshop - Thumbs Up!

Saturday's meditation workshop went really well thanks for asking, and on Sunday I played a gig and that also went great guns. Thanks to all who came to either.

Now I am busy with work, but tomorrow morning I will hone in on exactly what projects I am going to concentrate on now. Let you know as soon as I do, meanwhile...

Flow Like Water...

Join me for a meditation workshop!

Download my free music here.

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