That which is shining in me is shining in everything

That which is shining in me is shining in everything. ~ MC Yogi a.k.a. Nicholas Giacomini

Today is the last day of the PostADay challenge where we attempted to write a post once a day for everyday during the month of November. I had a bad, bad, bad day today and was not going to write my last post for the challenge. However, before going to be I was browsing through the September issue of Yoga Journal and saw an article on MC Yogi. I read the quote shown above.

As I lay in bed attempting to go to sleep and leave the day behind, this phrase kept running through my mind. So since I wasn’t sleeping anyway and there were a few minutes left in this 30th day of November, I thought I would let this out by sharing it with you all.

This was kind of like the light in me attempting to shine through the dark, mucky fog that the day had left me feeling. Now that I have shared this phrase with everyone, I am off to sleep feeling like I have answered the calling inside that wouldn’t shut-up until I did. Lol…sweet dreams. I hope you enjoy this quote.

44th Verse – Get off the Treadmill of Want

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Which means more to you, your name or your renown?
Which brings more to you, you or what you own?
I say what you gain is more trouble than what you lose.

Love is the fruit of sacrifice.
Wealth is the fruit of generosity.

A contented man is never disappointed.
He who knows when to stop is preserved from peril,
only thus can you endure long.

What are you putting emphasis on in your life? On your true self or on the person that relies on the approval and acceptance of others? On the person that is connected to everything and has everything needed or on the person who needs more and more material things to feel complete?

If you are putting more emphasis on getting more acclaim from others and more things, then, according to this verse, you are only looking for more trouble. What does this mean? If you reliant on outside things and people for your happiness and satisfaction, then you are going to be constantly disappointed. In addition, once you get that approval you are seeking or that object that you think you need, that will soon not be enough and you will then need the next person’s approval or the next bigger thing.

By gaining these things, you are losing because you are allowing those things to define you.When things define you, they are never enough and when you lose them, which you will, you lose your definition.

Love and wealth come to those that give without the need for retribution. What is wealth in this context? Wealth is a well lived life full of love, happiness and contentment.

“A contented man is never disappointed” because his (or her) satisfaction is not tied to any particular outcome. He/she sees the beauty in whatever is offered. He/she is grateful for what already exists and understand that everything and everyone is already connected, so there is no need for want and nothing is really ever missing.

The last two lines refer to knowing when to “stop”. This means to know when to get off of the constant treadmill of want and lacking. The desire for more and feeling that something is missing is a never ending cycle. Under this mindset, once something is gained, more is wanted.

By knowing when to get off that treadmill, one removes suffering and unhappiness.

43rd Verse – Fluidity in Action

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The softness of all things overrides the hardest of all things.
That without substance enters where there is no space.
Hence I know the value of nonaction.

Teaching without words,
performing without actions-few in the world can grasp it-that is the master’s way.
Rare indeed are those who obtain the bounty of this world.

This verse once again touches on the concept of being flexible and fluid in your actions and thoughts. We have seen before how forced actions cannot be sustained. Actions that are fluid and can bend as life changes are more easily sustained because there is a sense of effortlessness behind them.

This first stanza brings to my mind an image of water flowing through a rocky canyon. The soft, pliable water flows effortlessly through the hard rocks and enters any open spaces that it comes across. The water can flow at great speed and continuous motion while the rock is shaped by the pressure from the flowing water. Because the rock is hard and attempts to maintain its position, it is eroded and carved by the water.

Non-action is used in the verse to mean acceptance for what is and openness to the way of all things. In other words not fighting or resisting the natural flow of life. Of course, as we have seen in previous verses, this does not mean sitting on the couch and letting life pass by. Action is needed, but the key is to not get so caught up in expectations and outcomes (see Living in Expectancy) that we create more suffering and hardship in our lives.

The “master’s way” that is referred to in the second stanza is the state of being where a person can act without effort. Think of great sports legends who defined the sport that they excelled at. They often describe how when they are playing effectively, they are in the moment. They feel as if they can see the next action without even knowing it. They are in the flow and connected with what they are doing.

Many of us have glimpses of this “master’s way” when we are doing what we love and feel totally engrossed in the activity. We are in the zone, plugged in, on it, feeling it, or one of the many other euphemisms used to describe this state. This is when time flies by and nothing else matters.

As the verse says, “rare are those…” who can tap into this state on a regular basis. Those that can do it by remaining soft and pliable, accepting to the changes in the flow of life, and being unattached to particular outcomes or expectations.

This ability to be in tune with the “master’s way” is something that we all have. We just need to quiet the mind from the constant chatter of its rigidity in thought, focus on expectations, and resistance to change.

You cannot stop the waves, but you can learn to surf. ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

Translation – You can not stop the problems and hardships from entering your life, but you can learn to accept and use them to learn and grow.

Don’t Worry, He Only Broke His Legs

Skydiving
This is a departure from the normal post today. I am writing today’s post based on The Daily Post @ WordPress.com. The topic for today is to write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond? Here is my response.

Seeing people that normally deal with the anxiety and excitement of an extreme sport such as skydiving on a daily basis with the look of worry and terror in their eyes is a bit unnerving. Especially since I was suited up and waiting my turn to do the very thing that had brought this terror to their normally calm expressions.

I had made the comment to my wife that the landing we had just witnessed did not seem like a very graceful execution of a textbook reengagement with the ground. I expected to see some flawless landings from the group of regular skydivers that we were watching. However, when the guy that had just landed didn’t get up and people were running in different directions all with a similar expression, I knew that something had gone terribly wrong.

When the ambulance and rescue vehicle drove across the landing field, I felt the strong desire that I had brought with me that morning to attempt skydiving start to wane. After all, if this guy who was a pro couldn’t land without injury, how would a green novice like myself have any hope.

I looked at my wife and then at my two young children running around the airplane hanger oblivious to events that were occurring in the near distance. Was I about to make them husbandless and fatherless, I wondered.

The scraggly instructor who looked more like a biker than a skydiving instructor came up to me a few minutes later. He still had the calm, controlled expression that everyone else seemed to lose earlier.

“Mr. Kramer”, he said, “You sure you still want to go through with this.”
Odd question I thought.

“Well, I dunno…what happened”, I questioned, wondering if the same fate would befall me if I went through with it.

“Oh, he was just messing around trying to show off”, he responded matter-of-factly as if he saw this sort of thing all the time.

“Is he alright”, I asked as the ambulance pulled out of the airport with the fallen skydiver.

“He’s fine. He legs may be broken, but he will be alright”.

Skydiving

I entered deep thought mode for a few minutes as everything swirled around in my mind. All the potentials for danger and potentials for fun were competing with one another in my mind. I replayed the video from my orientation earlier that I watched prior to getting suited up. Be aware, the video announcer had said, this sport is still considered experimental and injury and even death could occur. Not very inspiring

“Are the conditions ok. I mean that’s not what caused him to crash is it?”, I questioned.

“Nope, conditions are fine. Like I said he was just showing off.”

“Let’s do it!” I said looking into his eyes determined to go through with my desire to do this.

After a hug and a kiss from my wife and kids, I was jumping into the back of an old pickup truck with my instructor. Heading out to the runway, I could feel my heart starting to beat stronger as the adrenaline was starting to flow. Was I really doing this? Was I going to jump out of an airplane after seeing the commotion of the morning? Would I end up like that guy getting lugged away by an emergency crew…or worse?

Skydiving

The truck came to an abrupt halt and we jumped out onto the black deck of the runway. There it was, the airplane that would take me to my jumping altitude. I was not impressed by what was in front of me. I had been on some small planes, but this was ridiculous.

I had seen the websites and brochures for skydiving companies over the years as I worked up the nerve to actually sign up to do one. Their planes looked nothing like this. They were always shiny and sleek looking like they would take their passengers into the sky in comfort and style. The one before me now had none of the above.

It was small; enough room for the pilot and maybe four people on the floor in the back. There were no seats in the back, just the smooth, hard surface of the floor. We entered the door on the side of the plane as I realized that it had no door, just an opening in the side of the plane where a door used to be at some point in this little plane’s evidently long life.

Inside, things didn’t look much better. Duct tape held many of the panels up the sides of the interior. The one seat used by the pilot looked like something stolen out of an old junkyard car and bolted in to take the place of a once more appropriate seat.

My instructor clipped us onto the plane using the hook welded onto the floor. Good thing because I was wondering how we would stay in this thing once it started to pitch and turn.
The engine started and the wheels rolled and sooner than I could say wait a minute, I changed my mind, we were off the ground. The engine strained and fought its way into the clear blue sky.

Skydiving

As we climbed to our jumping altitude, I was lost in the beauty around me. The sky was as blue as the Caribbean Ocean with white billowy wisps of clouds scattered around. The Rocky Mountains spanned the horizon off to the west. The people, cars, and buildings beneath us started to look like the setting on a model train set. For a minute, I had forgotten about the dilapidated aircraft that I was strapped into or the fact that in a moment, I would be jumping out of it.

My trance was broken and I was brought back to reality with the instruction to get into position. With that command, my heart was racing again and I could feel the adrenaline rushing once more.

We scooted over to the edge of the plane with me strapped onto the front of my instructor. As I had been told, I swept my legs over the edge of the floor and allowed them to dangle under the body of the plane. Sitting on the edge of the plane, I could see the world below and realized how quickly I was about to get much closer to it.

My heart was now about to beat through my chest and my adrenaline was on full throttle. My body was shaking with anticipation and warning me of imminent danger. The body doesn’t quite understand why we are jumping out of something that is not about to crash and so it revolts against the notion.

“Are you ready?” the instructor screamed at the top of his lungs to combat the noise from the airplane engine and the wind rushing against us.

“Yes!”, I screamed back.

“Then scream!”, he yelled in return. The scream was to make sure you weren’t holding your breath out of fear.

I let loose a blood-curdling scream like Braveheart going into battle. “Ahhhhhh”, I yelled as our bodies left the solid form of the plane and the free-fall began. The sensation of the bottom dropping out beneath me quickly took my breath away and ended my war cry.

Falling, strangely, felt a lot like not falling. Besides the air beating against my face and contorting the skin on my face into Jim Carey like expressions, it felt surreal like I was just watching the earth while floating in the air. Yet at the same time my adrenaline was pulsating and I felt the rush of a drop from an amusement park ride. It was a sensation that I can’t quite describe.

With a tug like running into a clothes line while riding a bike, the parachute opened and slammed the breaks on our descent. The slow gliding motion felt as if I was a bird soaring towards the ground.

Skydiving
As the ground neared, I had a realization that once again broke my relaxed enjoyment. The landing is what the guy earlier that day had messed up and we were coming up to that portion of our journey. As my father-in-law colorfully says, it’s not the fall that gets you, it’s the sudden stop at the end. Plus earlier in the orientation, they had said that you could land on your feet, on your butt or on your head. Be ready for anything because you never know what to expect. Again, not very inspiring.

My heart raced once again as we approached the ground. The adrenaline surged once more as the possible outcomes spun around in my mind.

With a well-timed stall performed by my instructor, we paused before gently touching down on the ground as if we had just softly stepped off the back of the pickup truck that we were riding on earlier. Our journey had come full circle and we were back on the earth. Even better yet, we were unscathed in the process.

Once I was unhooked from all the straps and buckles, I returned to the welcoming arms of my wife and kids. I felt relieved and excited that I had gone through this adventure, yet sad that it was over.

It was one of the scariest and most exhilarating experiences I had ever been through. I had never been that scared in my life. However, it goes down as one of my top ten experiences.
Skydiving

42nd Verse – Be the Change

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The Tao gave birth to one.
One gave birth to two.
Two gave birth to three.
And three begat the 10,000 things.
The 10,000 things carry yin and embrace yang;
they achieve harmony by combining forces.

People suffer at the thought of being without parents, without food, or without worth.
Yet this is the very way that kings and lords once described themselves.
For one gains by losing, and loses by gaining.

What others taught, I teach.
The violent do not die a natural death.
That is my fundamental teaching.

The Tao is the creating force of all things and is outside the control of our mortal hands. Everything that we see and experience carries both darkness (yin; also associated with water, earth, the moon, femininity and nighttime) and light (yang; also associated with fire, sky, the sun, masculinity and daytime). However, in order to achieve balance and harmony, both must be accepted.

People associate the possessions and the circumstances of their life with the level of happiness and contentment that they enjoy. However, one gains happiness and contentment by losing their attachment to those things of the outside world that they have become reliant on.

This last stanza can be summarized with the statement “what you put out is what you have given to you in return”. If you are a violent and angry person, then that is what you receive from others in return. That is the karma that you have created. On the other hand, what the verse is alluding to, but not explicitly stating is that the inverse is also true. If you exhibit love, peace, and joy then that is what you will receive more of in return. That is not to say that you will never see anger or misuse from others, but rather you will learn to not have your internal state impacted by such actions.

To summarize this verse, we can say that we must accept what is and understand that we have no control over the outside world. Therefore, we mustn’t become attached to things and expectations regarding situations in our lives. In return, no matter what the outside circumstances of our lives are, we must come from a place consistent with the qualities that we want to see in the world. Ergo, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”.

Make it Happen Today

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“One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now!” ~ Paolo Coelho

I saw this quote while reading through a post by The Truth Warrior called Living on the Edge. It reminded me of two of my recent posts; Let Your “Music” Shine” and Let Your Life Sing.

Too many of us put off what really matters to us. We wait for the right time, or for the right circumstances, or for the right person to come along and help us. We come up with excuses for why today is not the day. Well, what if tomorrow doesn’t come? No one is promised tomorrow. All we have is today.

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Whatever it is, make it happen. Go after that dream, tell that person you love them, go for that new job, write that book, compose that song. Don’t wait too long and let life pass you by with the dream still waiting inside you.

This reminds me of a book called N.O.W. (No Opportunity Wasted) by Phil Koeghan, the host of The Amazing Race. This book is about determining what it is you want to accomplish in your life, making a list of those things and putting forth a plan to accomplish them.

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Today is the day. You can either fulfill your dreams or create regrets. Your choice.

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41st Verse – Duality of Appearances

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A great scholar hears of the Tao and begins diligent practice.
A middling scholar hears of the Tao and retains some and loses some.
A inferior scholar hears of the Tao and roars with ridicule.
Without that laugh, it would not be the Tao.

So there are constructive sayings on this:
The way of illumination seems dark,
going forward seems like a retreat,
the easy way seems hard,
true power seems weak,
true purity seems tarnished,
true clarity seems obscure,
the greatest art seems unsophisticated,
the greatest love seems indifferent,
the greatest wisdom seems childish.

The Tao is hidden and nameless;
the Tao alone nourishes and brings everything to fulfillment.

It is one thing to hear of these teachings of the Tao and understand them. It is another to take these teachings and apply them in your life. The first stanza is a metaphor for how far you are taking the teachings of the Tao. Are you scoffing at them as being ridiculous and a bunch of mumbo jumbo, are you incorporating some and letting others fall away, or are you incorporating them all into your daily life.

There are those that would ridicule its teachings and render them useless in the real world. This verse says that “Without that laugh, it would not be the Tao”. I take two things from this sentence. First, there is an inherent duality in life; a ying and a yang. If ignorance did not exist, how would we recognize wisdom? Therefore, without those that would ridicule that Tao, we would not be able to recognize the necessity of its teachings.

The second thing the line conveys to me is that the Tao allows that laugh to occur. The Tao is not some jealous God that would strike down any that opposes its rule and laws. No, the Tao is the way it is by its nature. Its teachings can be taught, but each of us must determine the path we are going to walk in life.

Stronger is the force that can withstand ridicule without the need to eradicate the source of that ridicule.

The second stanza describes some of the dualistic nature of life and how the appearance on the surface of the Tao is not always the truth of its teachings. For example, the way of illumination seems dark because we must let go of the old habits of the ego in order to take on the teachings of the Tao. This can be a scary step into darkness until the new wisdom of the Tao illuminates the dark places of the mind. Going forward may seem like a step back because shedding the old habits of the ego can seem like a step back according to what we are taught in the materialistic world. The easy way seems hard because in reality living according to the Tao is easy because it is our natural way. However, we make it hard due to the layers of ego that we wrap around it. True power seems weak because qualities like grace, peace, and love seem weak to those that are caught up in the teachings of the ego.

The last stanza reminds us that the Tao is the underlying energy of all things. It is the creating source and the provider of all that is truly needed. It is not visible and cannot be known to our human senses. As we learned in the first verse, “The Tao that can be named is not the Tao”.