My life has sometimes felt like an endless traffic jam – as if I’m stalled amidst countless obstacles, trying to go somewhere but getting nowhere. It’s been so easy to feel befuddled and bottlenecked, like I’m living a totally sidetracked, jam-packed life. However – lucky for me – there are times now, in my 9th decade, when life seems to actually be a wide-open highway rolling freely toward limitless horizons, and I’m just peacefully passing along as freely as a cruising pleasure car. These are occasions when life feels like a clear, unclogged expressway welcoming me to move freely and effortlessly along, through problems and victories and sorrows and delights. What I’ve learned is the fortunate fact that all the slow-downs and stalls in my life are caused onlyby my own thoughts. Life itself is an infinitely widespread road that leads in endless directions toward boundless truths and wonders, and only my own thoughts can throw me off course and set me in a relentless traffic jam of fears and worries. The flawless and free highway of life is always here, ready to transport me on adventures that, be they happy or sad, can always be magnificently rewarding. I just have to have the car of my thoughts washed and tested and ready to roll.
Today I hope I can be a loyal follower of the present moment. As each moment makes its way across the landscape of the day, I don’t really need to do anything myself except quietly follow and be steadily surprised by what’s unfolding before me. I can be a quiet companion as the day discloses its surprises – a loyal supporter and admirer, going along with each moment just for the joy of seeing it and appreciating it. Of course, this day might lead me along some roads of discomfort or sadness, but even then I hope I can be faithful companion, just walking beside the infinitely wise present moment, watching and learning and being quietly thankful that I can follow such a sensible guide.
(on Sanibel Island)
This is flat country,
perfect for following life,
just floating along
and letting life
unfold the way
it wishes to.
You’ll wonder where
it’s leading you,
but light and warmth
will work in thoughtful ways
to comfort you,
and millions of beautiful,
will help you accomplish
of following life
like a fervent, loosened up
Even during my so-called ‘waking hours’, I sometimes seem to be not completely conscious – sort of dozy and dreamy -, but the universe itself is always conscious, always entirely awake. In fact, since I am an essential part of the universe, I, too, am always awake, just as a ripple in a flowing river is always flowing. I may occasionally seem, to myself, to be dozing along in a trancelike state, but actually I am as mindful as the always sensitive squirrels in our yard, as purposeful as the winds that waft and swirl among our trees. Truly, I can’t avoid mindfulness, because the universe that I belong to is an endless, always observant mind, or Mind, and its limitless alertness lives forever in me. I just need to wake up to that fabulous fact.
Today, I hope I can rest more often. Actually, perhaps I should say I hope I can realize that I am always resting. This universe that I and all of us and everything belong to is, you might say, made of restfulness. Yes, there certainly seems to be lots of work happening all the time, but all of it always happens in the smoothness of togetherness, the way all the ripples and waves in a river happen in the easy inseparableness of the single, always relaxed river. No matter what might happen in my life today, it will happen in the present, and, since there are no boundaries to the present (it’s always here, with no end), there are no edges for actions to bump into. Like an endless ocean, the present simply rolls and flows in inseparable friendship, and thus all that happens in the present happens in smoothness and fellowship. Yes, what happens might seem difficult and even horrible, but that’s because I’m viewing it from afar, the way an ocean can seem roiled and whipped when seen from a distance. Viewed close-up, from the eyes of a small, smoothly swimming fish, even the stormiest ocean is still a calming home. The fish ‘flows with the flow’, and thus finds rest even in the midst of severely tossed waters.
Today, no matter what happens, I hope I can feel the boundless comfort of the immeasurable present moment. Then, the hardest – even the saddest – work can seem full of rest and peacefulness.
The word ‘implicit’ derives from the Latin word meaning ‘entwined’, and, as I look outside at 6:09 on this spring morning, I know marvelous miracles are secretly entwined in everything. The trees are not speaking directly, of course, but implicit in their silence and dignity is a message of consummate peace. Unstated in the cloud-filled sky is the graceful wisdom of nature, and every leaf on the rhododendron bush sends a beautiful underlying message. Indeed, inherent in everything I experience today will be subtle and far-spreading truths, if I can just take the time to carefully look and see. Even in seemingly silent moments, a joyous serenity will be implicit – unstated, but steady and endless.
This morning I’m thinking of the wise men of the Christmas story, who saw a special star in the sky and decided to study it and follow its movements, which led to an astonishing discovery for them in a barn in the small town of Bethlehem. In a sense, I see stars every day, all day long. These stars are the thoughts that endlessly rise and shine inside me, and then set and disappear. I’m like a traveler in a vast universe of thoughts that shimmer marvelously as they come and go in the boundless sky of life. What’s truly astounding is that I don’t have to do any ‘work’ in order to enjoy these star-like thoughts. All I have to do is carefully observe the thought-filled sky inside me, and choose and follow the brightest and the best thoughts, and let the others – the less reliable ones springing from fears and worries and self-centeredness – slip away into the darkness. Like the wise men of the Christmas story, I must trust, each moment, something besides my own small and separate mind. I must get the wider, higher view, see the limitless vastness of existence itself , and then simply follow, each moment, the brightest star, the thought that shines with the most inspiring brilliance. There’s always a lit-up barn in Bethlehem waiting for me, if I just yield to the light and follow.
(about Philip M., 89, Blessings, CT, USA)
Philip seeks harmony
by setting his sight on starry thoughts
and then studying and following them,
and sometimes he finds himself
standing in places of powerful light,
and just looking and listening in wonder,
and he always names the places 'Wonderful'
and rejoices with exceeding joy,
and sets gifts down in these special places,
and worships them,
and knows they are everywhere.
Here’s a sunrise scene on the Mystic River during our morning walk today …
… and here’s my best-of-all friends reading the essays of the classic American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson …
WORDS LIKE LIGHT
Sunday, September 5, 2021
Today, I hope to live as if life is unfolding for me as I stand on the summit of a vast mountain – which, in a very real sense, I am. The simple and wonderful truth is that there are absolutely no limits in life – no starts and finishes, no here and there, no past and present, no theirs and mine. All is present, right here and now – and right here and now goes on forever, and belongs to everyone and everything, and can never be damaged or destroyed. It’s so easy for me to fall into the opposite view – the near-sighted view of things that sees life as limited rather than limitless, as insecure rather than unassailable, as unreliable rather than everlastingly trustworthy. Today I hope I can hold in view the vastness and soundness of life. In the midst of fears, I hope I can see the shoreless ocean of calmness, and when anxiety surrounds me, I hope I can sense, all around and inside me, the security of limitless peace. I confess that, for most of my life, I have been small-minded and short-sighted, seeing life as frail and confined, but now, nearly 80, I am finally opening my inner eyes. I now see the wonderful fact that I am always – always – on a mountaintop with astonishing views, and in these elder years of mine, I’m finally enjoying the views.
IF WE LOOK CAREFULLY
If we look carefully,
we'll see there's a fresh path
to travel each day,
and something that amazes us
wherever we are,
and time enough to feel
the flow of life.
There are always inner mountains
with surprising views,
and brand new,
to widen the roads
we have to travel.
We'll notice improvements
in the universe --
a bird's wings that seem startling,
water that works smoothly with our hands
to wash them,
clouds that sway as they drift
on their untroubled trips --
if we look carefully.
WORDS LIKE LIGHT
August 17, 2021
I’m sure we all sometimes wonder: where does it all begin? Where is the origin of this experience called ‘life’? Right now, I’m sitting at my desk at 4:43 a.m. on Wednesday, August 18, 2021, and where did this situation begin? Where did these typed words on the computer screen begin? Where did the rising and falling of my lungs just now originally begin? What’s so amazing to me is that I realize, more and more clearly, that finding the origin – the precise starting place – of anything is like trying to find the starting place of a circle. It simply doesn’t exist. A circle does not begin – or end – and neither does anything else. All of us – all people, things, and situations – are beginningless and endless, as infinite as a flawless circle. We like to pretend that everything has a beginning and an end, but that’s as silly as saying a circle starts right here and ends right there. Me sitting at my desk right now, at 4:54 a.m. on Wednesday, August 18, 2021, didn’t begin anywhere, just like a circle doesn’t begin anywhere. Situations don’t start or end; they just flow, like any circle wonderfully flows.
Lucky for me, I won’t be starting or finishing anything today. I’ll just humbly be part of the beginningless and endless flow of the infinite, beautiful circle called ‘life’.
SOME PEOPLE SITTING IN A CIRCLE
IN THE PARK ON SUNDAY MORNING
They said they were worshiping
what was –
the trees turning in the winds,
a few old flowers
working comfortably to show off,
a discarded spoon
being restful in the grass,
the thoughts that were given to them
as gifts from the silvery moments.
just adoring dear life
that was letting its light
flow over and through them
on this effortlessly
WORDS LIKE LIGHT
Wednesday, August 11, 2021
Today I hope to remember, all day, that I am not in command of my life, but that a much greater and higher power is the true ruler of everything. I’m not talking here about the power traditionally called ‘God’ – a supposedly superhuman being who sits somewhere above us and runs the show, both the tragedies and the triumphs. No, the imperious power I’m speaking of is more like an infinite wind than a super-person. Throughout our limitless universe, this non-material, highly skillful ‘wind’ flows and drifts and controls all things, including the infinitesimal but indispensable ‘breeze’ called Hamilton Salsich. I often laugh to think of my endless efforts to control my life, to be the boss and master of everything, like a wisp of a breeze trying to supervise the limitless wind. I can imagine the big wind saying to the little breeze, “Hey, relax and let go. I am the captain. I can take you on wondrous adventures today. Just relax and let go and let me do the work.” I hope to do that today. A masterly force will be always at work, moving me through thoughts and feelings and events the way the boundless wind moves its countless gusts and drafts. A grand adventure awaits me today. I just have to release my hold on the reins and let the immeasurable spiritual ‘wind’ of the universe do its wondrous work.
ALL IT TAKES
He saw some branches shaking in a breeze,
and then he understood: the force that frees
the branches isn't in the branches, but in
the breeze itself. The trees receive the spin
and whirl of a wind, and it remakes
their lives. For patient branches, all it takes
is letting breezes do their swirling dance
with them, and soon the branches start to prance.
He saw, like in a dazzling light, that he
could do the same, could be a patient sea
that rolls or sleeps as wisdom blows across
it in the storms of life or in the gentle toss
of daily living. He saw that he is not the one
who does the work of life, but that the fun
of living comes from letting go and letting
endless spirit do the work. The art of getting
free involves allowing forces larger than
the universe itself to swirl and roll and fan
his life. Like branches in a breeze, he's in
the best of hands, and cannot help but win.
WORDS LIKE LIGHT
Monday, August 9, 2021
I hope to stay truly awake – and aware –today. I want to be totally conscious of each arising moment, the way I might be conscious of an amazing sunrise. I want to get quietly acquainted with the sights and sounds of today – the whisper of raindrops, the bubbling of water on the stove, the click of keyboard keys. Today could be a day to begin to get deeply familiar with life, like it’s a newfound, wonderful friend. I hope to be mindful of the miracle of my breathing, of the graceful flow of my feelings, of the thoughts that will softly throw themselves around in the limitless realm called my mind. I want to stay alive to the gifts I’ll be getting moment after moment today, always aware of the breathtaking life I am lucky to be living.
a man named Jimmy Jones
went to the Social Security office
and said to a person named Nancy
that he wished to change his name to
He said he finally saw,
what a large yield life had produced for him,
that quite a bountiful crop lay spread around
and inside him,
and he needed to start gathering it in.
There was goodness in great fields,
and patience was spread from east to west,
and wisdom lay out as wide
as winter and summer together -
and it was time to garner and glean.
So, Jimmy said,
don't you think my name should be
something like Jimmy Harvest?
Nancy stared at him,
and then something shined from her eyes,
and then she stared some more.