Originally Published: January 23, 2013 by remingtoncooney |
I’m back in Vancouver and I must say, this time around I’m feeling unusually overwhelmed by it. Perhaps it’s the sudden change in climate. I went from being in weather above 30 degrees to barely above 0 degrees, in the span of 24 hours. Perhaps it’s the jet-lag; the sensation that part of my being has been left behind and is taking its sweet time to catch up to me. Perhaps it’s the anxiousness and excitement to get new projects off the ground – to continue following my dreams in what still feels to be a fairly foreign land. Whatever it might be, it’s in times like these that concepts that I’ve previously written about, really get put to the test. I think it’s important to mention that I am no master of the things I write about; I am not yet a master of working with the Tao. But I strive to be, and that is why I enjoy writing about it. I’m keeping a log on my progress of finding The Way. You should do this too. You don’t have to write about it, but keep a mental note of what actions feel smooth and harmonious in your heart, and what actions just don’t sit well. It really helps with the numerous choices we are confronted with in day-to-day living.
At this point in my anxiousness, I ask myself, “Well, what are you anxious about?” and the answer comes to me very clearly: I am anxious about the future. I am anxious that the future will not fall into place the way I WANT it to fall into place. Right here you see my rigidity. I have a map in my head of exactly how I want things to pan out, and I’m anxious that it won’t unfold the way I envisage it. This condition is universal, I am sure. Especially for people at my age. Many of us have mapped out our lives down to the finest detail in our heads, and we want to see results that meet this mind-map. But the Taoist does not like such rigidity. For the great sages say, “where is the movement in such stiff living?” How can one become the bamboo shoot in the hurricane if they are holding such rigid ideas in their heads? My projecting into the future has caused me to become the oak tree; hard, rigid. Under external pressure I will snap. So best to just be the bamboo shoot.
To become a bamboo shoot, I must step out of my future projections and be here, now. It’s okay to have goals to aim towards, but they must be reached through the present. I read a lot of books that say all answers exist in being present, but rarely do they give detailed, practical strategies on how one does that. So many Zen masters say, “just sit,” “just be present.” But for those who do not know how, there needs to be some sort of method to start with. For me, it’s following the breath. It’s not simply just breathing because we breath all the time and that doesn’t get us anywhere in times of stress or anxiety. It’s about really following your exhale right to where it drops. One image I like to create in my head goes a little like this:
Imagine your exhale is a river. On this river sits a small boat. As you breath out, follow this boat along the river all the way to where the breath drops. Following the breath to where it drops, is to reach the waterfall at the end of the river. And if your boat can reach this waterfall consistently with each exhale, then the bamboo shoot within you is being deeply nurtured.
Cut down the Oak tree and grow a bamboo shoot.