Living beyond the present moment

When time and everything else has passed, is said, and done… it will have been our virtue or lack thereof that defined us. How can we be so cruel and disrespectful to others and the nature that surrounds us? What can be the point? How can we think or say that my way is better than your way when we are unsure of our own or the outcome that may follow? Eternity only speaks for each of us when we are listening and ready to use what we think is our imagination and insight to go there. 

We are to celebrate those things that move ourselves and others to a universal view, to our highest aspiration and virtue. Growing accustomed to the ever-present flow of wisdom and understanding of the ages and moving others to becoming ubiquitous and omnipresent, what that means, and what we are here to contribute. To see and respect the innate nature of all things. We do not simply live in a house; we surround ourselves in and with our dreams of our highest aspiration. Not simply in a physical sense, but as the embodiment of impermanence of who we are yet to become. Open to change and authentic to our true selves, we become a constant like a beacon of light from the stars, others look to for direction. As we in turn evolve and change signaling our ability to become more universal as well. 

To the right a depiction of a dragon (some would say phoenix) outlined in the stars from more than two thousand years ago at the Taoist Cave next to the Leshan Giant Buddha south of Chengdu. Both figures are seen to possess a reserved yet elusive spirit, capable of freely transcending the boundaries of heaven and earth, they were often referred to as metaphors in ancient China for gentleman and sages. For example, Confucius reportedly compared Lao Tzu, a famous philosopher and thinker of ancient China, to a dragon. It is also believed that Taoists compared Confucius’ wisdom and grace to the lofty virtues associated with the phoenix. Both of them took benevolence as the ultimate virtue towards the treatment of others.

Below is an entry from “My travels with Lieh Tzu” written in May 1995. This is from an unpublished manuscript I wrote found on my website. In Chinese and Taoist history Lieh Tzu, Chuang Tzu, and Lao Tzu of Tao Te Ching fame, and their writing, were the foundation of Taoism.

Taoism and Buddhism became intertwined in Eastern philosophy so much so that adding thoughts attributed to the Dali Lama with my own become appropriate to our path going forward. Traveling with Lieh Tzu above the clouds, is as if you are immortal having no concept of time spending time with old friends from the past. Even Einstein’s Theory of Relativity conveys our ability to move in the past. 

Excerpt from “My travels with Lieh Tzu”:

Tranquil Abiding

Finding peace of mind from within. Striving for contentment while staying within yourself with simple simplicity and an innate sense of modesty. Finding a certain strength of character to not be challenged nor surrender to the provocative that leads to an affluent or comfortable lifestyle or way of life. 

As you find the natural temperament within yourself, the stronger your will and capacity to endure hardship. With this, you will gain enthusiasm and forbearance laying a solid foundation for spiritual progress to develop a singleness of mind and penetrating insight. 

Aspire only to tranquil abiding. Strive for and achieve a sense of contentment and modesty and an ethically sound and disciplined way of life. In thinking about discipline, it cannot be imposed from outside. But you must come from within yourself. Discipline should be based on a clear awareness of its value and a degree of introspection and mindfulness. Once ingrained, it becomes automatic or self-imposed. You then become free to develop alertness and mindfulness. 

The bodhisattva Manjusri is the bodhisattva of wisdom not confined to knowledge or concepts who works for the enlightenment of all beings. 

When you have developed these two basic factors of awakening, then you can attain singleness of mind. Have no personal involvements or obligations that will direct your attention from the path you must now follow.

Originally constructed in the 800s, Qingyang Palace, the name means Black Goat, named after the bronze goat statues, which can be found outside of Sanqing Hall. It’s the largest and oldest Taoist temple in Chengdu and is well known throughout western China. Second to Qufu and Confucius, I am drawn to Chengdu in southwest China east of Tibet, famous in both Buddhist and Taoist history and religion. I have visited Chengdu many times.

Transcend the limits of your human existence. Forever losing your identity and endeavoring to take care of your ultimate aspiration. Understand the role of attachments and clinging and use them in letting go. With little or no obligation and involvement remain free to fly away. 

(From excerpts of an article in the May 1995 issue of the Shambhala Sun by the Dalai Lama with interjections by DCD 4/12/95) 

Seeming to be far beyond the lives of those around you. Not in a conceited way, but on a path separate from others.

Seeing beyond the clouds on Yellow Mountain in China

Those you encounter only fleeting glimpses of what remains undefined and/or uncompleted with what may close never closing and what begins never-ending.

Anything outside yourself in effect non-existent as if you have reached the point where living becomes beyond the present moment. With music and a sense of tones and vibrations of the universe as your guide. 

A never-ending contentment knowing that life is simply a continuum with nothing remaining that needs to be done other than adding to mindfulness that can be attributed to universal peace and understanding. Living beyond the clouds, as you have seen and done before. At rest with no hurry to reach for the next rung on the ladder. Only looking for peaceful beginnings and endings and to something you wrote all those years ago that may be added to.  

As you look to the present with your eternal presence in mind. Twenty-seven years after writing the above as a tribute to tranquil abiding, that while my travels have taken me far, knowing that I still have far to go.

To the right depiction of the dragon from more than two thousand years ago the Wuhou Temple in Chengdu.

Empowering myself and others with the mindfulness described above never-ending. Why looking to the bodhisattva Manjusri, the bodhisattva vow, Chuang Tzu’s Perfect Man, and the wisdom of my mentors (in Eastern philosophy and thought referred to as dragons) reminds me of the past and future yet to come. 

 

 

 

 

  

 

By 1dandecarlo

Becoming the best version of ourselves as we see the universe through our own reflection 

Seeing beyond ourselves to the horizon is central to predicting the future. The ingenuity of our ancestors being replicated through a motivation to connect with the divine. To what makes us universal.

What the earliest shaman conveyed saying the sky’s the limit as we look to the stars as well. What is it that inspires us? Music and those who perform it, talented artists like Monet, athletes like our favorite sports stars, writers, authors, and philosophers. Or certain places or periods of history that joggle our minds and memories. Those current, as well as those we have known through the ages. Knowing that their history is our history too. Even adding an empty chair next to ours asking them to share their experiences, stories, and wisdom with us and to stay. Inviting them into our thoughts as we join them. How are we to take their trials and tribulations as examples of how we should model our lives and actions to emulate, find, and remember the best of ourselves? Or those we feel give us divine direction or guidance like Christ, Budda, Mohommed, or others. Who or what is it that inspires, or ignites, our spirit that propels us to our greatest endeavors and destiny? 

Just where does our imagination take us as we enter the universal flow that connects us to what lies unknown often simply as fear, but to act as a guide until we decide to go there? With fear taking us to places we otherwise would not go beyond the status quo. Just where is it that meditation and prayer and seeing ourselves as our own reflection can reside but as virtue? Even as we ask ourselves imagination and virtues purpose.

For myself, it begins with words either read, spoken, or written. Or even to that which is left unsaid but obvious. With what our eyes see reflecting on the past that moves us to the future. As what can be that belies or tells us, of an institutional memory we possess, and actions that move us, asking are we following a script and do we have a plan going forward. Even if only for eternity’s sake, can something be written until we write it? 

Omar Sharif and Peter O’Toole and the line in the movie Lawrence of Arabia when Sharif says “it is written” when a man falls off his camel in the desert and is destined to die. O’Toole’s character goes back retrieves the man and returns saying, “nothing is written until I write it,” As if we each have endeavors to fulfil before we move on. I saw this movie back in 1963 in the sixth grade and bought the soundtrack album and used it as a turntable. It was an epiphany. I still have it on my play list of music I regularly listen to. It reminds me to remember from where I came and where I still travel. I am reminded though, that O’Toole’s character, Lawrence, had to later kill the man he had earlier saved for the greater good. He himself later dies in the movie in a motorcycle accident upon returning to England.  

The challenge is always to be content with our own legacy. That we are a divine spirit in a human body. 

 

  

By 1dandecarlo

Moving ourselves and others with innate nature and virtue 

We sometimes act or live as if in a predetermined status quo. A weariness that pervades and keeps out needed change, while growing accustomed to things as they are. As we delay filling in the details that define and determine our ultimate time of arrival. We are to be seen in a place where everything we touch is as if it is our child, as we live our dream and be able to touch it.    

Appearing to live in two parallel worlds. One seeing ourselves attempting to live up to the expectation of others that define our worthiness. The second being that was never who we were that was meant to define us. Except for what may be seen as an otherworldly audience. As we have always remained beyond explanation or description. This dualism means we are never able to satisfy our desire to find peace or comfort simply in the present, except to know we are ultimately to return to our beginnings. It makes us feel like we are missing something in our lives. When acknowledging this we compensate with thoughts and actions of doing no harm, doing things strategically, and what we feel connects us to our highest endeavors and sense of virtue… The paradox found as a spiritual being having a human experience – as living and reporting back consequences of human behavior in a new space and time. 

Just what is it that connects us to our highest endeavors? How is it that our thoughts and actions are to take us there? For myself, it has always been ancient China. Interestingly, it is the historical period leading up to when Marco Polo returned to Italy in 1295AD, (He was a Venetian merchant, explorer and writer who travelled through Asia along the Silk Road between 1271 and 1295.) especially Qufu and Jining in Shandong, and Chengdu in Sichuan Province. With the past expressing itself through my writings. Why I created my own foundation to have a place for hundreds of thousands of words and books, some published most not, I have written over the past many years. As if returning to update the thoughts and words of mentors through the ages in the present. Remaining unconcerned with having a current audience… as you live and write for them. Beyond what may be called simply a hobby and your garden, to a sense of underlying eternal self-expression because all true writing is also auto biographical. A truism I took to heart early in my own writing almost thirty years ago with the words… what you write is who you are to become. Living and writing for an audience that is eternal. 

It is like writing about Confucius, then five years later going to his hometown of Qufu in China (October 1999) and ten years later living and teaching at the school of his descendants in 2011. Then making over forty trips over the years that heightened my awareness that there must be something to this. Finally moving beyond the need to physically return to Qufu because my presence has always been there. The portal I now return to in meditation. Reconnecting with Confucius and the ancients only a reminder to always look inward to nature and virtue for the next step. 

What is it that our spirit clings to that brings us to the present and our connection to who we have always been? Complementing what may appear on the surface as unknown or on the edge of our consciousness with what takes us there. We often confuse the purpose of meditation and silence, without accounting for our memories that serve as the vehicle for remembering. Sitting and moving in silence assists in re-focusing our thoughts and energies to the present moment. Crossing over a river or seeing the view from a mountaintop but for what purpose. We begin to act as if a master planner on an eternal journey. Beginning to see ourselves above this status quo mentioned earlier. To the time and place the earliest Taoists identified as having no need for what can be seen as right or wrong. Living in harmony and rhythm with universal vibrations that act as guideposts along the way. With our heart and mind beating to a different drummer, we follow as our nature takes us there. 

By 1dandecarlo

Living beyond the unknown we acknowledge our path and eternal presence. 

The ability to perceive the invisible, with the Universe being accessible and understandable, about correct and careful reasoning, and about sorting through contradictory and confusing information. To see and speak clearly with the wisdom of the ages passed down as eternal thought beyond the moment and emotion. As if becoming detached from the reality of the vagaries of today. Looking to the theories of quantum mechanics and physics to where our thoughts are continually adding to themselves. As we return to the flow of consciousness from which we came. 

It has been the fear of the unknown and taking steps to go there that seems to haunt us. To go there now to be as if living a dream… remaining fearless while not knowing the outcome. Not trusting ourselves and what lies from within that makes us look to that which lies from the outside that we mistakenly choose to follow. As we live to make an inanimate body sing through the ages. Our physical body only the temporary home where our consciousness resides to be built upon. To whom and what rhythm do we sing to? If we are responding to an eternal portal, is it in effect re-connecting or returning us to the flow and to those we have always known, and just who is it that are our ancestors? 

Quantum physics leads to the conclusion that there are two distinct types of “substances” in the universe: the physical and the non-physical, with the human mind fitting in the former category. This suggests, though, that the brain is a physical and biological object, while the mind is something else, resulting in so-called “mind-body dualism”. If consciousness is a result of an interaction with another physical system, then it can be seen as our living beyond the human body… as a continuum that is never-ending, to what some may refer to as spirit as an eternal essence. To a place that may appear to be unknowable or beyond strictly human terms. 

We look though to science, beyond theory and to history. To the thalamus gland at the base of the brain that can act as the pivot between these two substances (our physical brain verses our conscious mind) that make things personal and living our life as if every day is transcendent. It’s why we look to the highest endeavors of those we respect as our mentors who understood and captured this eternal flow of the universe for themselves and found their home there. To be on the path of Plato, Lao and Chuang Tzu, Emerson, Martin Luther King, Jr., and so many others.

Why mountaintops and sanctuaries where we can go and look beyond the horizon are so gratifying and going there too. It’s like looking to the stars, remembering, and finding comfort knowing what’s inevitable.  

Once we know that we are to look past the present, we are inclined to only do those things in keeping with the path we are here to travel. 

By 1dandecarlo

Moving beyond the present with our virtue intact 

We often see views from my window from around the world on Facebook in the stream where people illustrate their vision from what they see of the world and surroundings, from where they sit so to speak. A snapshot shared with others depicting their place in the world. When we truly begin to see ourselves in the world, we are to not look sideways – but look to the horizon and divine order.

To see ourselves as the portal that moves or takes us, and others, beyond the present and asking what it is that takes us there. What is a portal? A portal is seen as a door, gate, or entrance that takes us to a place beyond where we are now. 

What is it that takes us there? This quest and question are eternal and akin to finding clothes that fit for our journey beyond where we find ourselves and what we think we know. It is as though when physical appearances become less apparent all that remains is our virtue. In that how we see the world we see ourselves. And how we treat ourselves and the nature that surrounds us that defines our path. 

For myself, it begins by looking back to beginnings, ancestors, memories, and mentors. To those who have guided our spirit over the centuries. Many believe that it is our spirit that flows through the ages from generation to generation and that re-connecting with this flow of energy is our ultimate endeavor. The intrinsic wisdom and virtue residing in each of us – just as with all things found in nature as an evolving entity. Letting our mud settle, as the Buddhist would say, reminding us to have discipline and patience.

To the left Manjusri, who asks us to take the bodhisattva vow, that we are to live by the precept of self-awareness and wisdom.  

That meditation and silence brings forth from within reminders of where we have been with self-awareness that acknowledges who we have always been, am now, and will be in the future and going there by living and seeing beyond the present, as if living beyond the present is where we all should hope to be found. 

This brings us back to living as the portal exemplifying change. We change the world and our environment by and through how we live. Beginning with correcting past mistakes, acknowledging our responsibility for them, and touching all things only with virtue. We are the window to which the universe responds. Moving beyond simply the view from our window and what we think we know, to identifying with what is unknowable and finding our comfort there. To what empowers us as well as others by becoming the teacher, as we in-turn become the student for tomorrow’s benefit. It is often said that knowing our past is our prologue to the future. It will be the portal we find and follow that will take us there.

 

By 1dandecarlo

Living the dream with right intention as we create our own space by design

Cultivate equanimity – integrating with nature and divine spirit.  As we find our voice and then learn to stay in tune with what nature teaches us as we learn to sing. Re-discovering the portals that speak to our soul, purpose, and eternal connections.

Portals in that we affect everything we touch – as everything that touches us affects us as well. Knowing we don’t really have to leave our chair, because there is no place we haven’t been. Our soulmates those who have known us through eternity. Rekindling this flow with what takes us there as we learn to create and live the dream as we go. To never question when it happens just to be there when it does.

This is the bliss Joseph Campbell was talking about. Whatever we intend, whatever we plan, and whatever we have a tendency toward, that will become the basis upon which our mind is established. When we live and develop meditation based on equanimity, all aversion is abandoned. Equanimity fails when it produces the ordinary indifference of the uninformed.

Having thought simply as a mental object with our mind, one is neither glad-minded nor sad-minded but abides with equanimity and intrinsic wisdom, mindful as we become fully present and aware. We use the words like “original state of mind” to denote both our home and our destination. But just as importantly as our aspiration and intention.

Equanimity is often confounded with indifference or detachment, but this is far from accurate. These two are mild forms of aversion in which a person chooses to push their interest away from an object or deliberately remove awareness from attending to what is present. Equanimity is the opposite of these, engaging objects with heightened awareness, but without being pulled by attraction or pushed away by aversion.

We are to see if we can cultivate the attitude of equanimity, so important to the practice of mindfulness as a refined state of mind as we look to what takes us there. Equanimity is not a lack of interest but a state of heightened curiosity. It does not mean that we don’t care about something, but that our caring about it is not driven by likes and dislikes. As we regard the thoughts flowing through our mind abiding with calmness and tranquility, we become fully aware.

I often think books and movies are based on a story portraying one line of thought or a few that tell what the author really wanted to say. It’s like a two-hour movie to convey a minute or two that is meant to stick with you. Field of Dreams with Kevin Costner and Burt Lancaster come to mind. Also, Brad Pitt in Seven Years in Tibet. Like a great artist giving his voice to other people. That we are always on the journey until we are not. Living as if you are already there, as we live and become the portals for both ourselves and others as well. When we fully integrate with the divine spirit that exists within us. It’s recapturing or re-entering this flow that eludes us when distractions overtake us as we become one with what is commonly referred to as destiny.

Living in reverence with nature defines how we are to live as we create, and in-turn embody who we are yet to become. It is a learned attribute dating from the flow of antiquity we carry from within each of us. As the environment we create is the means of simply remembering what takes us there. To simply return to who we have always been. To what many have expressed as spiritual beings having a human experience.

If you are here – open yourself to meditate and think on what this means. Ultimately this becomes the “how to” we use to go there. How do we create the space that takes us beyond where to find ourselves that defines us that matches our highest endeavor? Again, how do we go there?  What is it that prods us to go beyond the present that best illustrates our own divine nature from within? What universal vibrations are we attuned to that are meant to guide us? We can open this door by creating our own space that speaks both for and to us and eternity. The mind, body, and heart connection that serve to speak for us. Tending to our gardens and thoughts and assisting others in doing the same opens this door not only for ourselves, but others as well.

Elements of garden design serve to re-kindle our innate divine presence and can be approached as if “rewiring our brain” as though we are “tuning into and returning to our true nature”.

To the left is the depiction of how over a three-thousand-year period we are bound by evolving nature as we find ourselves in tandem. This illustration is from China.

Re-discovering the practice of meditation as a conceptual framework that reinforces the idea that we are going to gain something from it, i.e., lasting ideas, as Roshi calls them in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. That when we live through and as our eternal presence with mindfulness and a goal-oriented framework, the more consistent our lives become and the more we reinforce that eternal framework in tune with our innate consciousness.

Learning that one step leads to and defines another. Discarding the premise that things must be a certain way… what Monet was teaching us through his impressionistic painting of the garden. Things do not have to be a certain way and the lines can be and are often blurred. Just as flowers and plants have evolved in nature over the millennia and time, through our virtue so have we.

Just as teachings from the East and West, with Buddhism and Taoism, as well as the Christ presence within all things, other faiths, and paths, show us that life is eternal.

Always changing to fit the times, we approach our gardens and garden design with grace and the reverence they deserve. Just as we do our own lives and who and what we care about. Taking people and things to places they have forgotten, have not been before, or maybe just for a while. This mindset is important in letting go of thinking things must be a certain way and the impermanence we bring home from the stars and seasons of the sun and moon that guide us.

Seeing ourselves as eternal. Here this time to correct past mistakes and moving on to our greatest attributes, we become the ultimate self-fulfilling prophesy. In simple terms, what’s important to design is flow, movement, and how our eyes bring it all together. Like the balance found in feng shui, that as we align with nature it in turn aligns with us…

How our garden progresses over time we make progress towards an everchanging goal with what becomes unknowable.

It is as Thomas Jefferson said,

“No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of a garden.”

Jefferson’s garden notebook he kept for over fifty years was a comprehensive record of plants, horticultural techniques, and garden practices. His thoughts on landscape architecture and design at his home and gardens (illustrated on the right) in Monticello and the University of Virginia illustrate a unique sense of place… all of this is a prelude to today’s talk which is how and why we create a sense of place for ourselves as we design our own garden. (I made a visit to Monticello in 1993).

How do we introduce ourselves and others to a meditative sensibility by the way in which we relate to our surroundings? Creating a sense of calmness and tranquility that brings others into what we are doing by first examining our intent and methods. For myself it’s treating every plant, shape and design as a living thing that desires and yearns for its own sense of self-expression.

The oldest tradition of taking responsibility for what we are given and producing something useful for all things. Stewards of what is the ever-expanding nature of things that connects and pivots us to both our origins and what is yet to come.

To carry ourselves as if there is a presence that embodies and surrounds us. With a sense of knowing who we are beyond the present. When encountering others that presence speaks for itself as we are attracted to situations that sense this and are thusly attracted to us as well. It is as if we are entering a universal flow with our gardens speaking without words for all things past, present, and future.

Two books I want to reference, although it could be many more. The first Garden Design, History – Principles – Elements – Practice (pub 1994) that focuses on the European model and how it transitioned to America. And second The Way of the Virtuous, the Influence and Philosophy of Chinese Garden Design published in 1991. Kind of like seeing things in a yin and yang way that catches the intent of how your eye and mind visualize going beyond what you think you know. There is so much here I could easily teach a full college semester on elements of both and garden and landscape design. I’d like to give a few highlights as food for thought that I think can be relayed as nurturing spiritual insight.

As an aside, if I was locked away in a cave on HuaShan Mountain with only an occasional beam of light streaming in, in what is commonly referred to as a hermitage, I would ask for only one book… “The Way of the Virtuous, the influence of art and philosophy of Chinese Garden Design”. It’s a book that serves as a reminder or encapsulates, i.e., tells the story, of what I’ve always known but sometimes forgotten and to where I return.

Viewing the sunrise from the East Peak on HuaShan Mountain in October 2018.

Foremost is creating a sense of calm tranquility and composure. Working within the intrinsic nature of our garden (that translate into how we live) that emphasizes ethical and moral principles. We are to make aesthetic assessments based on ethical values. Confucius taught us that we are to identify mountains and streams equal to benevolence and wisdom. He felt associating with nature one can cultivate a pleasant temperament and inspire better moral behavior. Ultimately, the key is in transforming natural scenery into a reflection of the moral character of our spirit.

Illustrating the art of wu wei, or doing nothing beyond ourselves, most famous for many are the Gardens of Suzhou in China. Gardens from a thousand years ago that illustrate this idea of Confucian “gentleman who copies the virtuous”. I’ve been here many times. When I was teaching at Jining University in Qufu I taught English to students who were to become tour guides. Some of them would go to Suzhou to be tour guides at the Gardens of Suzhou. I was so envious – but then again, I was their teacher. What is known as the “Lingering Garden” to the right is a favorite of mine. A key to this idea of garden design depicting our virtue is that “things appear to be harmonious yet different. That what appears as different becomes harmonious with its surroundings”. As if things that are the same do not contribute to conscious thought.

Eastern thought, especially Taoism and Lao Tzu, emphasizes the sense of “emptiness and calm”. Where our potential derives from this emptiness from within us. Emptiness brimming with possibilities with potential uses endless. To see and visualize all you encounter as being beyond the beyond as just a starting point and fearlessly going there.

A difference from that expressed in Western gardens where we begin with emphasis on solid large architectural objects (for most of us… our house) as a solid core signifying, we’ve arrived. Whereas, in Eastern gardens, there is an empty object signifying a certain reverence to nature in the middle. Most common are what is known as “courtyard” gardens that remain empty at its core with scenic objects and places to go around the sides that serve as an outside room. Both illustrating or contributing to our spiritual connection between man and nature or the lack thereof. As I said before, I could teach a whole college semester on Classic Chinese Garden design.

Another view or way of looking at things

Next for what I call a different perspective or point of view, is the book Garden Design, History – Principles – Elements – Practice (pub 1994) that focuses on the European model and how it transitioned to America. From this I would like to briefly talk about two key elements. First discovering our style and how we express our innate nature through our gardens. And second how we create our own sense of place that moves us beyond the present.

In Western thinking, we often seem guided by ideas along the line “we’ve always done it this way” moving as if by rote. Often with order and special definition the defining characteristic with landscaping and gardens appearing to serve as rooms where we create a certain view that highlights plants and features. This runs counter intuitive to nature in that “all things are meant to change” as nothing remains static or the same… bending nature to man’s will as the norm. That all things found in nature somehow are for the benefit of man to the detriment of all other things and not alignment with universal principles of cause and effect.

Over time – history – the garden and man have been a place where they co-exist. Serving as a place of inspiration as the number one leisure activity in America, gardening with the changing seasons dictate beginnings and endings where the true meaning of universal spirit resides. When we try to fit nature into our own paradigm, or way of individual thinking, instead of partnering, or letting nature show us the way – we can lose the inherent connection we have with our environment. As if looking for the association we’ve always had but by inattentiveness somehow lost. There seems to be a paradox here somewhere. Today we should be a model of climate activism that puts life at the center of every act and decision that prioritizes this interconnectedness… again seeing things that appear to be similar but different.

That we are one with all living things as our love of nature should be empowered with reverence and grace. To the left is a section of a wall panel found at the Qingyang Taoist Temple in Chengdu, China.

Our style tends to begin with borrowing and adapting to suit new situations often with little regard for what may have existed previously – things lost by our own inattention. Not by fitting in, but by creating something new. We look to patterns on the ground as a first step and think of structure and laying it out on paper to create an immediate sense of order and spatial definition. This structure leads to a certain disciple and order that we use to define the next step that needs to be taken. As we look to what a garden should do, rather East or West, in reflecting a life well-lived. Often though, instead of looking to emptiness to be filled in things described earlier in the Eastern courtyard garden, we sometimes have walkways used as boundaries around the edges. Without defining or knowing that it is our emptiness that serves to define us. Living within the confines of what nature allows as life’s greatest teacher.

It is this nuance that attracts our attention. With all things contributing to creating a sense of grace and space where our imagination and spirit have an opportunity to soar. Where we can discover our own space and use it to become our most natural selves.

It is best expressed in the essay, Self-Reliance, by Ralph Waldo Emerson who claimed that to be a brilliant person, he must be able to be independent in his own state of mind in the midst of a crowd. He believed that being a nonconformist is the only way to be a man. His ideas on transcendentalism became a connecting piece between East and West and helped to shape the consciousness of Charles and Myrtle Fillmore. Without him, Unity, and we, would probably not be sitting here today.

This entry is for the Adult Education Class for Unity of Springfield to be held on June 6, 2022.

By 1dandecarlo