Treading lightly the path to enlightenment.

Posts tagged ‘peace of mind’

Now

Now

 

 

To these sheep grazing on the hill,

It is not Wednesday.

It is not 6:34, or July,

Or our pinnacle days of summer.

 

It is not infancy or maturity,

Youth or old age.

Nor a workday or holiday,

Not weekday or weekend.

 

To these sheep grazing on the hill,

To these calves basking in the sun,

To these birds that soar above me,

It is Now.

Seek peace,

 

Paz

Three Q’s

Wedding Dancers

 

Could I really be this happy?

Or am I crazy?

Does it matter?

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

Delusional

Who’s to say denial and delusion are anything but good for you?

Dreams, fantasy, fiction, acting, pretend, hope, “all the world but a stage”.

Consider the alternatives.

Of which course to follow,

Really, who is the fool?

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

Kind Words versus Critical

Rerun: This post was originally published in 2011. – Paz

 

I was reading a thing recently about a crew demolishing a building. Someone asks the foreman how long it would take to knock the building down, and what sort of skills were required by the crew. To sum it up, the guy replies that they should be able to knock the whole thing down within a week, and aside from knowing how to work safely, no special skills were required. The observation concludes that it would take many weeks or months, maybe a year or more, to construct the building, and the construction would require many people with well-developed skills. Masons for foundations, welders for steel, electricians & plumbers, painters & roofers, and perhaps consultants for interior design.

In short, it takes longer and requires more skills to build something up than to tear it down.

This is also true of people, and the words we use with one another.

Like the unskilled demolition crew, anyone can speak words of criticism. Complaints, judgement, even derision. These words are pretty easy to come by in the human brain, especially when motivated by aggravation, frustration or anger.

By contrast, it requires greater effort to hold one’s tongue, keep one’s opinions to one’s self, to avoid getting on the band wagon with others complaining or condemning, and especially to keep hurtful things from spitting out of our mouths in the course of an argument, particularly an angry one.

So too, it requires a different and perhaps greater skill to look for the good in situations, to compliment people on the degree to which they got things right, not criticize them for the degree of wrong.

In the heat of battle or when someone is railing or ranting, the conversational side of the brain will feed you many thoughts that it wants you to speak. Maybe it’s the way you feel, or maybe you want to defend a position, or maybe you want to agree with a condemnation being offered.

The sage will understand the old adage “less said the better”. With concentrated effort, one can express that one understands or at least hears the other’s point of view without agreeing or arguing.

In any situation, look for the positive. With any person, look for the chance to share a kind word, and watch for those verbal grenades your automated-language-based brain tries to toss past your teeth.

We went to see an apartment into which someone had recently moved. The street was not well-to-do, or of the newest part of town. The houses were mostly multi-family rentals, and were generally well-worn. One could not describe the sidewalks or alleys as neat or clean. The apartment was at the top of a steep, narrow, windowless staircase. The windows could have used cleaning, and with some effort one could see above the dormers of the house next door, and catch a sliver of the sky and the city beyond. The kitchen floor was from the last century. It looked, in many places, exactly like what is was: a medium-sized second story apartment in an older house, whose tenants probably never stayed more than a year or two.  A few marks showed on the walls and woodwork, where families had probably raised rambunctious children, and the landlord probably repainted only when needed.

When asked, I described it thusly:

“It’s quite spacious, with good-sized rooms. It has a brand new carpet in the living room, and a brand new space heater, like the ones I have in my house. A Big kitchen! The windows are big. Tall, old-fashioned windows that let in the light. On sort of  a side street, where the traffic seemed pretty light. And cozy! Probably quite efficient to heat!”

Next time you have a chance to describe something or someone, an apartment or even adversary, put your effort into the use of the skills of “craftsmen of the human spirit”, “masters of language”, developed by being practitioners and tradesmen in the arts of compassion and empathy, and build with the materials of positivity, hope, caring and dignity.

Be at peace,

Paz

Kinship

 

Thistle Down Shower

Today I feel enmeshed with The World.

As if The Earth’s blood flows through my veins.

As if all these living things are part of me, my kin, and I am responsible for their care when in their midst.

It is a wondrous, warm, comforting feeling of belonging, the likes of which I have not known before.

Difficult to put into words.

Sleep, Little One

An overwhelming peace.

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

Zen in our Techno-Monetary society

This journal entry was originally posted in 2012.

It seemed worth repeating.

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

Sunset Moon

It wasn’t easy choosing a name for the blog Armchair Zen, though that’s how I’ve referred to my personal philosophy for some time. Names like “Zen in the modern world” and “Everyday Zen” and the like seemed to be taken. I guess everyone has the same idea.

Mostly the idea of ACZ is to share thoughts and philosophy with those that want to seek enlightenment, peace in their daily lives, harmony with the world, nature, the cosmos and life itself. It’s not about achieving perfection or some higher plane or a place in the next life or eternity. It’s about understanding our capabilities and limitations in this life, it’s about acceptance, understanding, compassion, forgiving and letting go.

As it says in About, these things are nothing new. Applying them to today’s world is not always that easy. We live in a world I term a Techno-Monetary society. We’re surrounded by wonderful technologies from life-saving medicine, global communications, electronic entertainment, space exploration and productivity greater than mankind has ever known, bolstered by the machines and artificial intelligences of our modern world.

In ancient times and old days, individuals and whole communities were isolated, and did not have the benefit of the vast volumes of knowledge mankind has compiled since. Their lives were filled with strife, at the mercy of the elements, filled with superstitions, fears, and lack of understanding of things that seem simple to us today. The sun, the solar system, what makes rain, thunder, tornadoes. They had more time, and perhaps a greater need, to seek peace within their lives.

We are also slaves to the monetary system. In all the developed countries (probably 90% of the globe), we need to work at something to earn money for rent, taxes, clothing, food, transportation, and the list goes on. This is really not new, nor does it strictly apply to developed countries or societies. Go back a couple thousand years and we find people did not live the simple agrarian lives we might imagine. Subsistence farmers & ranchers, mountain-men and even minimalist communities of today need to barter goods or trade cash for the things they can’t make. Cooking kettles, sewing needles, broadcloth, tack supplies, sugar, salt, bacon.

Finding our personal zen and peace within our lives seems like a considerable challenge after negotiating traffic, signing in at work, talking to customers, clients or co-workers that are not seeking enlightened ways, and any number of non-zen, non-nature, non-peace-encouraging things we must do.

Still, I find my ACZ to be pervasive. It hasn’t always been that way. I was “Two Jakes” for many years, seeking solace in nature and creative expression during my precious evenings and weekends, and turning off the peace machine when going to battle with the world. After some years of concentration, practice and informal self-cognitive behavioral therapy, the zen has spread to all hours of the day.

Nowadays there are few interactions with others wherein the conscious-competence of ACZ does not rule. Filter-monitoring, managing emotions & reactions, thinking forgiveness & acceptance, seeking to navigate all situations for the best outcome of all under the guidance of enlightened thought & behavior. Spread loving compassion by being loving and compassionate. Spread forgiveness and acceptance by being forgiving and accepting. Appreciate the beauty of the world around us by opening our eyes and minds and truly seeing. It’s not always easy, but it’s always simple!

That’s really all for this post. Perhaps it’s not a lot of meat, but an encouragement to those that may be seeking the path to peace. Sure, it takes a little time and concentration, but it can be done without extensive training or effort or money or social status or massive brain power.

You don’t have to be rich, you don’t have to be beautiful, you don’t have to be perfect. Everyone is welcome.

The cosmos, and I, love each and every thing without judgement.

That includes you!

Be at peace,

Paz

Constant of Joy

Sunset Moonrise

Someone asked about happiness.

“Can you be truly happy if you are alone?”

I replied as follows:

For me, there is peace. It’s not so much about happy or sad, really. Life is a long, long road for most, and it is bound to be pock-marked with tragedy, sadness, loss and boredom as well as elation, excitement, gains and triumphs.

Having come to understand my place in the cosmos, my perspective has become one of simple reality. Like so many other beings on this planet, my existence is but a flash in the context of the universe. This existence, by its very nature, will be visited by laughter, joy, pain and sorrow in varying measures, until my light goes out. It is the knowing that all things here are transient that brings peace. Cherish the highs and endure the lows, and it’s gone before we know it.

I feel I am never alone. Wherever I go the Great Cosmos is all around me. I am a part of it as a grain of sand is a part of the beach. I feel comforted, secure. In constant company. And it is this that brings me joy (happiness) always.

Any place, any time, the Cosmos assures me, “I’m right here.”.

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

The Wee Hours

Moonrise

Moonrise

Awake in the wee hours, the “middle” of the night.

The world feels quiet, sleeping, and close. The world seems smaller and more intimate. Or perhaps that’s just my world. Unencumbered by visitors and conversation, undisturbed by the constant chatter of the television.

Sassy June awakes, walks to the kitchen door with one eye open, as if to say “Time to get up?”.

Sleepless, I stare out the west window through the maple trees twice my age or more, and watch the stars. One disappeared, and I thought cloud cover must be blowing in. A few moments later, the star reappeared, and I realized I stared at it so long the planet moved beneath us. As our blue globe rotated, stars would vanish momentarily behind a branch, to pop up on the other side after a minute or two.

Standing beside the wood stove, I look out the south window. Across the road and down a hundred yards, small lights glow at Hillmeyer’s farmhouse. I can’t tell if they are porch lights or within the house. Light from my own kitchen window spills out onto the snow-covered ground beneath, illuminating an odd rectangle, stretched out of shape. A trapezoidal micro world that extends no more than five feet from me. I watch as the wind blows tiny things through the spotlight. Bits of autumn leaves, little crystals of snow, an occasional leaf of grass, dried and tan.

I consider the things I might do as long as I’m awake. Get out the easel and sort paints, maybe start a new canvas. Re-string fishing rods and ice-fishing tip-ups. Write a little.

I could post to the blog or read a few others, but the thought of the laptop and its noise, the light and the connectivity to the outside world seems offensive, intrusive.

I want to do nothing to fracture the fragile silence of this hour. Like sitting in church or attending a funeral, restful quiet is in order.

Winds blow.

Stars creep.

Man watches.

Before I know it, I am waking to the dawn in the chair beside the window.

February Dawn

February Dawn

Seek peace,

 

Paz

Island

 

On the move

On the move

A dog’s life and family are a strange thing.

Taken from their mother and siblings, and raised by a different species.

Humans have ring after ring of other humans around them. Offspring, relations, parents, family.

A dog is an island in a sea of humans.

For those who may be lost at sea, the island is hope, a respite, solid ground.

A salvation.

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

The Circle Closes

I see the world, constantly in motion, as concentric and overlapping circles. The cycles of life, construction and decay, winters and summers, birth and death. By definition, a circle must be closed.

Anyone that has read a number of posts on Armchair Zen will know that my constant companion on my path to peace is my ever-present and loyal friend Chuy the Wonderdog.

It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you of Chuy’s passing. After 15 years, 6 months and 21.25 days, my dear furry friend has laid down his burden. Nothing can hurt him now.

Chuy The Wonderdog 2001 - 2016

Chuy The Wonderdog
2001 – 2016

 

Summers and winters, through sun and rain and snow, we shared our path. Countless silent hours immersed in one another’s company. Bonds and promises unspoken. No need to speak.

Many people mourning the loss of a dear animal friend will extol their virtues and claim they were the “best dog ever”. In Chuy’s case, it’s simply the truth. I have learned so much during our time together, and he influenced my thinking, my spirit, my soul.

I have had the privilege of canine companionship my entire life, and can attest to the fact that this was a very meaningful, very special friendship, the likes of which I have never known, nor am I likely to ever know again. It will be two weeks tomorrow since his death, and this is the first day I’ve made it through without tears for my sweet puppy. I had to wait to try to compose a blog post, as I knew my head would be clouded with emotions, fond memories, mourning and missing him.

It is he and our relationship that shaped the way I would navigate this, the final step in our journey. While my heart grieves for itself, my own selfish senses of loss and loneliness,  my spirit has taken flight, and soars among the clouds, among the heavens, with my little angel puppy.

Thoughts, feelings and words came streaming through my mind since the day he died. All of the lessons he has taught me, the gifts he has bestowed upon me. Our silent covenant that we would never think of this day, but live each day together cleaving to every moment. It is he that got me through my worst week in ten years.

Love is a miraculous thing, that fills a space that did not exist before it came. The space remains, filled with joy, even after our loved one leaves us. There are bonds that transcend space and time, and even life itself. My spirit will ever be shaped by him.

 

We cannot shield and protect our loved ones from The Big World.

We must teach them well.

On balance, life is a wondrous thing, liberty is priceless.

Love and joy, in the end, win out over pain and sorrow.

 

I leave you now with a lesson he has taught me. A quote from the book we wrote together. It’s titled:

“Woof” (Translation: Chow Zen)

All of my life I was told “Thunder can’t hurt you.”

That never stopped me from being terrified by it.

Spare people such senseless jabber.

Hold them, and tell them

“I’m right here.”.

It is truly the only solace you can provide.

– Chuy The Wonderdog

Sleep, Little One

Sleep, Little One

Be at peace, all you fragile hearts.

Love really does conquer all.

 

Paz

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