Friday, February 28, 2014


The Master's power is like this.
He lets all things come and go
effortlessly, without desire.
He never expects results;
thus he is never disappointed.
He is never disappointed;
thus his spirit never grows old.

Those lines of wisdom come from chapter 55 of the TaoTe Ching. I have often read those lines at various services I have conducted, and lectures I have given, over the years. It is such good advice, who could gainsay it? Yet it’s so damn hard to let things come and go!

I find it hard to let go of so many things. Take books, for example. I have literally thousands of them, on a variety of subjects including religion, philosophy, psychology, science, cosmology, history, the performing arts, etc, etc. I am trying, ever so hard, to get rid of a lot of them at the moment, for I desperately need to de-clutter with a view to downsizing my home in a few years’ time or perhaps sooner. Then there are about as many CDs, DVDs, and the like---even vinyl records and a few 78 RPMs as well. No, I am not a hoarder in a strict clinical sense. I am too orderly for that, but I am a hoarder nevertheless.

I am also a hoarder of negative emotions, including anger and resentment. Those things are even harder to get rid of---and much more dangerous to one's wellbeing as well. I spend much of my life trying to help others with their problems of mind and soul, yet I often have so much trouble with my own such problems. (This is a rare confession from me.) Now, recently a spiritual fellowship with which I have had a fairly close association for about 14 years---I was a foundation member of this group, I drafted their constitution and rules, and I have spoken there on a regular basis in both recent years as well as in the group’s early years---treated me quite shabbily, indeed in a most mean-spirited and unfair manner (and this from a fellowship and a denomination---the one of which I am an ordained minister---that purports to be dedicated to the notion of acting compassionately and fairly, not to mention rationally). I won’t mention the name of the group, but if you have nothing better to do with your time you may wish to do this quick word search puzzle. Sorry, no prizes, etc, and please don't bother sending me, whether by way of comment or email, what you thing is the 'correct' answer to the not-so-damn-hard puzzle---a puzzle so simple, dear readers, I'm not even going to give you the search words. Ha!

Part of the problem (not the word puzzle, but with the group I mentioned above) is that I felt personally rejected by those in control of the group—and in a very real sense I was. And denied procedural fairness by not being properly heard, or heard at all. And I wasn't given adequate or meaningful reasons, or the real reasons, for the decision, which is tantamount to my not being given any reasons at all. Additionally, I expected a positive outcome, and it did not happen. My response (or rather reaction) was, well, less than gracious, and I felt more than just disappointment. Instead of accepting that even the best of people will act unreasonably, uncharitably and otherwise unfairly from time to time, that life itself is rarely fair---no, I do not believe in the idea that ‘perfect justice rules the world,’ cosmically or otherwise---and that I should ‘let all things come and go effortlessly, without desire,’ I erupted in anger, indignation and self-righteous outrage. I 'excelled' myself, so to speak, as respects my display of those emotions. (Even though in a sense 'they [the people in question] had it coming,' because they were so stupid really, and unfit to govern a religious organization, it is always the case that when we react badly, the problem is always with us, not with the other person or persons, no matter how badly they may have behaved.)

The spiritual teacher Vernon Howard (pictured right) often wrote and spoke of the need to let people think and behave toward us exactly as they wish (while, of course, taking all sensible precautions to prevent then from doing actual harm or injury to us). He would say, ‘Expect nothing from no one, plead for nothing, accept whatever comes, for no one---absolutely no one---has anything of any real, lasting value to give you.’ Such sound advice! You know, all of the world’s great teachers and masters have said more-or-less the same thing over the centuries.

And what about that group of people who, I still feel, acted wrongly and unfairly toward me, and in whom my disappointment is total and complete? Well, I intend to follow this pearl of wisdom from Jesus:

‘Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them.’ (Lk 9:4-5)

I will also do my darndest to release all the persons concerned to their 'highest good,' whatever that may be for them, even though I plan to have nothing more to do with them. (Well, why set yourself up for more hurt?) But releasing them all to their highest good---that’s the really hard part, but it must be done … if only for my own best interests.


  1. “When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they can't tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own - not of the same blood and birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are unnatural.”-- Marcus Aurelius

  2. Thank you for that. Marcus Aurelius is always full of useful, practical wisdom.