Thursday, April 30, 2009


It just doesn't matter! It just doesn't matter!
- Tripper (Bill Murray) in Meatballs

Nothing in life is permanent: buildings, relationships, achievements, possessions, disasters...nothing. We're all just building sand castles while the tide comes in.

And since everything is fleeting and going to change anyway, we need to remember to not take it all too seriously.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't care or try. Doing your best is part of the process. But we have to be able to take a step back and remember that, ultimately, it's all out of our control.

Revere life but treat it with irreverence. Or, to put it another way, lighten up, people!

Silliness is a wonderful way to remind yourself to relax the white-knuckle grip your ego has on your self-perception, your actions and your life.

Next time you find yourself getting too worked up about something, stop what you're doing, flap your arms and cluck like a chicken. It's a great way to interrupt your pattern and a great way to put everything in perspective.

Even if it doesn't break your pattern, it's sure to give the rest of us a good laugh. And that's worth something, right?  ;)

The Master never expects results;
Thus he is never disappointed.
He is never disappointed;
Thus his spirit never grows old. (v. 55)

Monday, April 27, 2009


Cherish the certainty of now.
- Faith No More (The Real Thing)

The expression "to live in the moment" is so overused, it's become a cliché. Yet it remains an unattainable goal for almost all of us. 

That's because our minds are based on thoughts. And thoughts exist out of the moment. They are made up of memories of the past and worries about the future. These thoughts are so pervasive that they monopolize our lives...and overshadow our present moments.

Like John Lennon said, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

Starting this week, let's vow to start exercising momentness (myself included). It's not that hard - simply a matter of breaking bad habits.

Give yourself an hourly reminder. Post it on your computer. Set an alert on your PDA or computer or watch. Give yourself some type of invasive interruptor to remind you to snap back in the moment. 

You don't have to stop what you're doing. Just pay attention to where you are. 

If you're talking to someone, truly listen. Watch their body language. Stop thinking of what you're going to say next. Just listen.

If you're working, stop and really notice what you're working on. What is the work? How are you doing it? Don't think about the finished product. Or what others will say about your work. Just concentrate on the process.

If you're walking or driving, don't think about the destination. Notice where you are. How are you walking? Feel your feet hit the ground. How fast are you driving? Feel the tires rolling over the pavement.

Just take a moment and bask in your moment. It's the only thing that is truly, completely real. Don't miss it.

I'd love to hear how this works out for you. Share your experience, frustration, joys, etc. in the comments section to this entry. We're all members of OOMA (Out Of the Moment Anonymous). And we can do this. One moment at a time. :)

The Master gives himself up to whatever the moment brings. (v. 50)

Saturday, April 25, 2009


If you do what you've always done,
You'll always get what you've always got.
- Aerosmith (Get A Grip)

Just as we stretch our bodies to keep us limber and less susceptible to injury, we should also continuously stretch our minds. 

The more rigid we become in our thoughts and beliefs, the less likely we will be able to adapt to new situations (of which we will never be able to avoid). Certainty can quickly turn into stubbornness...and before you know it, a curmudgeon is born.

We need to be willing to bend and change as our world changes around us. It's not just good advice, it's crucial for our very survival.

Remember, there is no absolute truth. There is ALWAYS a different way to do just about anything.  If something isn't getting the results you want, maybe it's time to change what you're doing. Look at other options. Listen to other points of view. Learn a new skill. 

S-T-R-E-T-C-H your mind so you can bend and bob and weave effortlessly through the never-ending dance of life.

The hard and still will be broken.
The soft and supple will prevail. (v. 76)

Friday, April 24, 2009


Black and white it should be, 
But shades of grey are the colors I see.
- Billy Joel (Shades of Grey)

Western philosophies and religions are based largely on the duality of nature. Good versus Evil. Heaven and Hell. Good Cop, Bad Cop.

But the world is never that cut and dry, is it?

The Yin/Yang symbol reminds that there are no absolutes. It's not half black and half white. The two colors flow into each other in a constant, revolving state of motion. Even when one color is most dominant, there's a spot of the other color smack dab in the middle of it.

Everything flows into the other. Both "sides" need each other to exist. EVERYTHING is relative.

We like to think the world is black and white because it would be easier for us to understand - and control (there's that bad word again). But life just doesn't work that way.

Good and evil co-exist in everything. Which means there is no REAL good and evil.

One man's right is another man's wrong. And definitions are relative, depending on where you live and when you lived (it used to be "good" to burn a witch at the stake, with evidence of nothing more than the person being left-handed).

Live your life as best you can - and see the world through the eyes of compassion, not judgement.

The Tao doesn't take sides;
It gives birth to good and evil.
The Master doesn't take sides;
She welcomes both saints and sinners. (v. 5)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Don't give up. You still have us.
Don't give up. We don't need much of anything.
Don't give up. 'Cause somewhere there's a place where we belong.
- Peter Gabriel (Don't Give Up)

You ever been to the Grand Canyon? Besides being a majestic beauty, it offers a valuable lesson in perseverance.

For over 2 billion years, the Colorado River has slowly carved this monument of stone. It didn't blast its way through or explode through the rocks. It simply stayed true to its water self.

Finding its own way, traveling the path of least resistance, always headed downwards. Never forcing its way through. And never giving up

That doesn't mean it stubbornly stuck to a straight and narrow path. It adapted (and still does). The mighty river bends and curves and widens and narrows. It rests in pools until it gathers enough strength to move on. But it never gives up.

Life can be as hard as rock sometimes. To get through it, we must remain as soft as water. To persevere, we must adapt along the way. And never give up.

Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water.
Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible, nothing can surpass it. (v. 78)

Monday, April 20, 2009


Working for a living, living and a' working.
I'm taking what they're giving 'cuz I'm working for a living.
- Huey Lewis & the News (Working For A Living)

If you're like most of us, you spend the majority of your waking hours at work. And if you're even more like most of us, your job is not necessarily your life's true passion. It's a job. A paycheck. A means to an end. But that doesn't mean you have to be miserable, does it?

You can find joy in any job simply by living in the moment. Giving your full attention to the task at hand. No matter what you have to do, no matter how challenging or mundane it may be, just do your best.

Don't worry about being the best. Don't get caught up in office politics or live in fear of what others think. Don't spend your days fighting or complaining about the job process or the corporate culture. If it was all easy and fun, they wouldn't have to pay you.

Remember, you have a job. You're not your job.

Do your best and walk away. It's the only thing you can control. Let everyone else worry about the other stuff.

If you want to accord with the Tao,
Just do your job, then let go. (v. 24)

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Hope. It's all that I have.
The calm in the storm. It's right where I am.
- We Shot the Moon (Hope)

Hope appears to be such a positive sentiment, right? We all want to have hope.

But hope has a downside....

When you think about it, hope is based on a sense of lack. We hope for something better. So that would mean what we have now isn't good. Hope can only exist with a negative perception of the present. How's that for a paradox?

And, yes, at least hope is an optimistic take on the future, but it's still future-focused. Which means it's not real. All that is real is right now. So instead of hoping for a better tomorrow, find hope in the moment. Right now.

That's not to say we shouldn't strive for better things. Just don't pin your hopes on the future. It's all relative, after all. What we hope for today may not be what we want tomorrow.  (Be careful what you wish for.)

True hope springs eternal in the present moment, not the future. If you spend all your time staring at the horizon, you'll miss the flowers right in front of you (and may trip over a big rock).

Hope and fear are both phantoms
That arise from thinking of the self. (v. 13)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da, life goes on.
- The Beatles (Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da)

Of all our emotions, worry is easily the least useful. In fact, it's of no use at all. It serves absolutely no purpose.

It accomplishes nothing and causes unnecessary anxiety. And the time you spend worrying could be time spent solving the problem you're worrying about.

It's bad for your health. From ulcers to migraines to nail-biting – worry takes its toll on our bodies.

The problem with worry is that it focuses on an imaginary future instead of the very real present moment. Worry is, literally, all in our minds.

It's a control issue, really. Our mind/ego worries because it feels it has no control over the outcome. And guess what? It's right.

Taoists believe that everything follows the natural order of things, which means everything is in its proper place and will work out the way it's supposed to work out - regardless of our interference.  You HAVE to trust in this. 

When you catch yourself worrying, remind yourself that it's all gonna be OK. Relax your body, take a few deep breaths. Focus on the things you can do right now and let the future take care of itself.

It always does.

Stop trying to control
Let go of fixed plans and concepts,
And the world will govern itself. (v. 57)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Seasons don't fear the reaper.
- Blue Oyster Cult

If you think about it, every negative thought or behavior is rooted in fear. Worry is the fear of the future. Guilt is the fear of your past. Anger is fear that you've been attacked. But what do we really have to be afraid of?

The worst-case scenario of any scenario is that our situation will change.

Want to make yourself indestructible? Release the need to control your life. Let go of the outcome of your actions. Trust your life to the natural process, which is never wrong.

When you were a kid, were you afraid of a bogeyman under your bed? But when you turned the light on, it would always disappear, wouldn't it?

Turn a light on the fear in your lives. Ask yourself: "What's most likely to happen?" Or better yet, "What's the worst that could really happen?" Many times, what we really fear is simply the unknown.

Finally, channel your fear into action. Fear can be a great motivator as long as you don't let it paralyze you. 

And remember, in the end, there's nothing to be afraid of.

When we don't see the self as self
What do we have to fear? (v. 13)

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes.
Nothing remains quite the same.
- Jimmy Buffet (Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes)

If there is one thing you can count on in life, it's change. NOTHING ever stays the same. Heck, even our body generates new cells and sheds old ones so fast that we're literally a different person every single day!

Yet change is the one force we tend to resist the most. We even fear it. Talk about spitting into the wind.

Try as we might to resist it, change is inevitable. So instead of fighting and fretting it (Which never seems to work. In fact, it only leads to unnecessary stress.), why not embrace it? 

Look around. Notice the changing pattern in everything around you. A seed becomes a plant that becomes a sapling that becomes a small tree that becomes a mighty oak that sheds its leaves that makes fresh soil... and so on and so on and scooby dooby dooby.

Life is Change. Change is Life.

The waves of change are gonna keep crashing down on you. We can either let it pull us under or jump on top and body surf 'em in.

Trying to control the future
Is like trying to take the master carpenter's place.
When you handle the master carpenter's tools,
Chances are that you'll cut your hand.
- Tao Te Ching, verse 74

Welcome to NOW

Thousands of years ago, so the story goes, a wise old Taoist master jotted down 81 passages of wisdom before disappearing into the wilderness. These notes are what we know as the Tao Te Ching pronounced Dow day jing).

The story is a bit more involved than that and whether it is even true or not is open for debate. But it really doesn't matter. Someone or several someones wrote something down somewhere at some time or another. Regardless, there is no denying the text is real and filled with incredible knowledge and insight you can use to help live your life. 

If you've read the Tao Te Ching or any of the other classic Taoist texts, you've experienced the poetic and ethereal nature of its passages. They are beautiful, paradoxical and, many times, elusive.

The irony is that Taoist philosophy couldn't be more simple. The word "Tao" is used to represent the true Source, the ultimate Way. It's the essence and energy all around us, permeating everything and in everything. It IS everything. Grounded firmly in the natural flow of life, the lessons of Taoism can be found simply by watching a bird in a tree or a plastic bag dancing in the wind (as in the movie American Beauty?).

And while Taoism is an Eastern philosophy, it has quietly permeated Western thought for many years. It can be found in such nuggets of wisdom as "go with the flow," "use the Force, Luke,"...even "shit happens."

That's why I've chosen phrases or quotes from popular songs and movies as a framework for the postings on this blog. It not only helps put Taoism in a modern context, it also reminds you how much Taoist philosophy you already know. 

Please feel free to add other lyrics or movie quotes that come to mind as you read the postings. My references are limited to what I've heard or seen, but I'm sure there are many, many more.