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?'

Monday, October 23, 2006

Does God Drop Cosmic Hints?

Most people are familiar with the practice of reading the symbolism in dreams, but some people believe that the "universe" or God (or whatever) communicates with us by dropping cosmic hints in the form of signs or omens.

I have actually always leaned slightly towards having a cynical view of all this, but then again ... my argument against (no proof) is easily turned against itself (no proof that there aren't "signs" either).

Anyways, all I know is that my elbow hurts and that the events of the other day were pretty wacky. Stella Woods, who I am yet meet in person, is an astrologer who writes for the same magazine as I do (LivingNow magazine. Go to the astrology section to read Stella's fortnightly updates). She sent me this following interpretation of the accident:

"3 is the number of creativity so 33 is one of the most creative years of your life. Snakes represent feminine wisdom and whether the bulging belly was from a tasty mouse or pregnancy/eggs etc it adds to the fertility/female symbol.

And as for the fact you didn't kill the snake but ended up breaking your elbow - the elbow represents changing direction and accepting new experiences and bone fractures, rebelling against authority and structure. So you changed direction on the bike and ended up breaking your structure.....

I'd say you're trying to tell yourself something about "where to next and what do I need to change?" If it's your left elbow it's the feminine side (unconscious), if it's the right elbow its the masculine side (conscious)."

Flow Like Water...

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Tao of Broken Bones

As I have already reported, I fell off my bike and cracked my elbow bone on my *sob* birthday of all days. Not the end of the world but certainly a bump in the road that has lead to some introspection...

...and let's face it, some stroppy temper tanties on my behalf! The novelty of living life one-handed soon wears off, let me assure you. That goes for typing too!

But this morning's I Ching reading for myself was simply "39 Jian" which the book I use to interpret my results (I prefer a modern interpretation, which may make the purists groan and gnash their teeth) says is all about "obstruction, interruption of flow".

Indeed. Well, as I pointed out below, the popular call has been that my accident, while thankfully minor in terms of injuries, was heavy in symbolism, and in fact there are those who suggested that I have in fact manifested "a sign". (I recieved an excellent reading of the event from the astrologer, Stella Woods, who writes for LivingNow magazine - who I also write for - and I am just waiting for her permission before I post this here for disemmination.)

Anyway, it all falls into two categories: Meaning, and Response. I am going backwards here and dealing with the latter first.

What is the ZenBest response to the fact that my fitness regime has been blown out of the sky? That my music now has to be put on hiatus? That I can't tie my own damn shoelaces?

Patience. Contemplation. And turning the situation on it's head by looking for the inherent opportunity that lies in the situation.

More on this as it comes to hand (or should I say "elbow"? Hardy har)

UPDATE: I have written more scintilating one-handed blather about this subject here at my other blog

Flow Like Water...

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Tao of Reading the Signs

Firstly, I am typing one handed today - you can get the background to that sorry state of affairs here at MooseMusic, my newer fledgling blog. (Yo'll come back now y'hear?)

Right, done with that?



So then I'm sitting at the kitchen table last night, self-medicating the pain away, when the phone rings. It is my boss from LivingNow magazine, Elizabeth. Now Elizabeth is not only a very successful entrepreneur, she is also totally spiritual. In fact she lets "Spirit" guide her business decisions everyday (and to great success too).

"Congratulations!" she said, giggling away. "You have manifested a very powerful sign!" She meant the snake crossing my path. "Now you must figure out what it meant. And you must not try to avoid "it" once you've figured it out - even if it is scary - because as you saw, it was trying to avoid the snake that resulted in your injury..."

So that my friends is what I am doing today - besides grumbling about my sore arm and reading other blogs - I am researching the symbolic meanings of the Snake in the various spiritual traditions and trying to figure out what it all means for me, what my great sign from the universe is (besides "watch out for snakes").

So far I only have small clues - I will come back with an answer soon...

Flow Like Water...

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Zen and Creativity

I have been away from my computer over the weekend, so in the absence of time or inclination to write, check this out:

How to find your creative Zen.

I need to go do the same.

Flow Like Water...

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Tao of Moderation

I have been pulled up by a couple of people very close to me who have had some things to say about my latest round of total abstinence from alcohol (as per this post).

"You're just repeating the pattern," was the call from both, "of going hard-at-it, then abstaining." And they both went on to predict that I would just "go hard" again once I begin allowing myself to drink again.*

So I asked myself the question "Have I made the ZenBest decision in setting a period of abstinence or should I be putting my efforts into learning to be more moderate?" The answer seemed clear. Moderation is my goal so why torture myself with three dry months of beerless misery ;)

It was my girlfriend (an effortlessly moderate drinker herself) who pointed out that she always has to put up with me either roaring drunk and refusing to leave the party until the last beer is gone and the sun is nearly up, or she has to put up with me refusing any drinks whatsoever and then sitting there looking glum and whining to go home by 9:30pm. I can see her point: not a lot of middle ground there!

So last night I changed the plan somewhat and began to practise moderation.

Frankly, it wasn't entirely as successful as I had hoped, but then again it was a step in the right direction. I set out to drink only three stubbies, smoke no ciggies, and share one joint (given I hadn't enjoyed one in over a week). In actuality I drank one long neck in the late afternoon sun - I ordered the beer off a waitress/friend who innocently enough figured I'd rather be "super-sized" for no extra charge. Ah, the price of popularity ;) Then I took a break until our guests came for dinner around 7:30pm. Over the course of the evening, interspersed by glasses of water, I drank three and 1/2 stubbies, shared two joints and smoked no ciggies. The cigarettes are not really a problem any more as long as I don't get smashed; I find them unappealing until then.

Those who don't drink would probably think that is a lot of beers; those who like a few would understand that what I consumed barely even "touched the sides", as the saying goes.

What you might not understand is what it feels like for someone like me who has long been a borderline alcoholic*. Once I work up a thirst for beer, it (to drink) becomes an extreme compulsion. It's a bit like having an itch that you just have to scratch, one of those itches that the more you scratch it the itchier it gets. So for me to s-l-o-w d-o-w-n while I am drinking, and to stop at a healthy point in time and just leave those remaining beers in the fridge, drink some more water and settle down for the evening, is really quite an effort.

But I did leave those two last beers in the fridge, and I don't have a hangover today. You can tell this because I am actually writing. Wish me luck on my continuing foray into the land of moderation; I am going to a BBQ tonight. It is a Sunday, and I have a big week of work ahead. I think it would be best for me to only drink those two stubbies I have left tonight, and smoke nothing. I am sure you will be waiting breathlessly for my report tomorrow morning ;)

*Let me qualify something here - or at least try as this is a very subjective scenario: I am not an full-blown alcoholic :) or at least I don't believe so. I am aware that dyed-in-the-wool AA converts would probably say I am, but frankly, I don't buy the whole alcoholism-as-disease model as it is so liberally applied by AA types. Maybe if I was a gutter-bum swigging from the turps bottle all day everyday, but I'm not. In fact by Aussie standards I am not even a particularly hard drinker (anymore). I would however say I am alcoholically inclined, and that it's fortunate I am strong enough to not let this potential problem get the better of me. So given that I am pretty much okay, it just becomes a matter of what I consider acceptable behaviour for myself. And let me define that: A few drinks here and there = acceptable; Drinking until pissed enough to give me a rotten hangover = unacceptable (expect maybe on rare occasions). So this is my yardstick; and no I am not one of those people who wakes up shaking until I have my first drink, although I have been there, but that was years ago. That kind of extreme behaviour I find easy enough to discard, it's the finer tweaking of my actions that has proved a little harder to maintain.

Especially in this fine, wide, brown land of ours, where the brews just seem to...

Flow Like Water...

Update: I looked in the fridge later that day and realised that I had in fact only consumed two and a half beers that evening, for what it is worth. *sigh* guess if I am going to count my drinks I had better learn to count first! Didn't go to the BBQ. Drank one beer at home (with company, like a sane person).

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Pedal-out-of-Debt Zen

I have twice recently opened my copy of "Zen in the Art of Mountain Climbing" by Neville Shulman randomly (as I do ... by way of asking for guidance from the universe) to find that I have opened to page 41 and that my eyes have landed on this paragraph:

"Ji refers to the technical aspects of a Zen art. Ri is the underlying principles of the universe, the universal truths, formless and unchanging. Ri denotes inspiration, whereas ji denotes skill. Now I will have to concentrate on the ji... (my emphasis)"

I have taken this as a sign that I need to concentrate less on ideas and more on action, on the details, on the skills and putting them to good use, of figuring out what the ZenBest thing to do is - the doing it as well s I can.

Some examples of how I have been putting Ji into effect in my "mountain climbing" are:

  • Result needed - I need to spend less money and pay off my debts. Ji skill - not drinking and estimating how much I would have spent on drinks during an evening out and putting this money onto my credit card debts the next day. And this also helps with the next item...
  • Result needed - Lose "spare tyre" around waist. Ji skill - riding my bicycle to work, which takes an hour either way. This also helps me save about $50 a week on LPG (gas fuel). It would save me more if I was silly enough to drive a petrol car ;)
Flow Like Water...

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

ZenBest - The Way of the Mountain

I would like to introduce you to a new personal project that I have just begun. Being ever in love wth catchy titles, I have dubbed it ZenBest and it goes like this:

  • I have been feeling like it is time for me to step up to the plate and stretch myself again in terms of personal development.
  • I have just finished reading "Zen in the Art of Mountain Climbing" by Neville Shulman, a very simple, modest book about how the man just decided to climb a bloody great mountain one day and despite the odds stacked against him, did so by using the mental strength that comes of Zen philosophy and practice.
  • We all have mountains to climb every day. I am currently standing a short distance the way up Career Mountain. It is very much my obsession to make it to the summit of this mountain. I have attempted several hundred times to make it to the top - but have thus far abandoned all of my attempts.
  • I believe it is my pre-destined mission in life to climb this mountain. There are other mountains that I will need to climb also but these are in fact part of the same mountain. Sounds a bit out-there I know, but what I mean is (for example) if I am to climb Career Mountain I will also need to climb Health Mountain as there is no career without my health.
  • Maybe I am just an egotist, but I have no desire to follow somebody ele's pre-determined program for success. I am not so full of myself that I don't read the collective wisdoms of those who have climbed before me and take it all into account, nor do I have any desire to re-invent the wheel, but I believe we all have our own personal mountains to climb, and that these are all different. Therefore they cannot be scaled by just following somebody else's guidebook. We each must write our own.
  • So now I begin ZenBest.
  • ZenBest for me is a way followed by asking myself at any given moment - at moments of decision making - "is this the ZenBest thing for me to do?"
  • This is different from asking "Is this the BEST thing?"
  • The BEST thing to do might be complicated. Complicated is not my way.
  • The ZenBest Way is defined by these two words: Simplicity. Productivity.
I have written enough for today, but this will be the continuing theme of my blogging from now. I began my own personal ZenBest program on Sunday October the 1st 2006 with two simple decisions. The first was to set up a pty ltd company and get serious about my career. The second was to abstain from drinking until Christmas Eve 2006. Two simple decisions that I believe will make all the difference ... but ONLY if carried through. Making decisions is easy, acting on them can be difficult. Anyone can decide to climb a mountain, it takes great resolve to actually do it.

I have posted further about this subject at my other blog MooseMusic.

ATTENTION Melbourne Crew: I am playing a gig tonight at The Wesley Ann on High St Northcotte at about 9pm with Tully and Hilda. Come along!

Flow Like Water...

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