After my evening Tai Chi practise I decide to take a walk. Pausing to look out across the bay I enjoy the quiet and solitude. The light from the street lamps is reflected in the water, and as the water ripples disturbed by the cold evening breeze, the spot of light that is the reflection of the bulb in the street lamp is duplicated on each ripple. The ripples stretch away from the harbour wall towards the wharf where the boats are moored, here the water is less affected by the wind and the ripples fade away and with them the lamps reflection fades too. I look up at the lamps in the street and then down at the reflections stretching away from the harbour wall. The water disturbed by the wind creates ripples and these ripples reflect the light from the lamp. When the water is calm it will only reflect a single light, a near perfect replica of the original. Yet when the water is disturbed it reflects many more lights, and the more reflections there are the more distorted they become. We are like this, disturbed by the winds of existence we are rippled and become a many faceted reflection of the shining light that is the supreme spirit. Like the distorted reflections of the street lamp I gaze upon we become distorted too. Instead of being a unique replica of the one real light and radiating that true light in our own individual way, we allow the winds of life to disturb our naturally calm interior, we become confused and lose our way, becoming disconnected from our own personal Tao. I reflect on the change from summer to autumn. A few short weeks ago the harbour, beach and streets were teeming with holiday makers. Some walked along like me enjoying the scenery by themselves, some walked hand in hand with lovers, husband or wife sometimes followed by children whilst others filtered into the amusements, pubs and clubs seeking entertainment. I wondered how anyone could come to such a beautiful place and then spend all their time in a pub drinking. Presumably they do it in an effort to escape from the unpleasant boring existence which they have to endure the rest of the year. How anyone could feverishly play slot machines hour after hour, blind to the natural beauty all around, preferring the material gain which is theirs when they complete that magic line, eager to take back home more than they came with, a modern measure of success; the acquisition of material possessions, all this I find hard to understand, to me it seems like some self-inflicted torture. As I sit reflecting on these things I remember that I have done all those things and more, I have no right to judge, I do not know who these people are and their struggle with the daily toil of existence may well be fraught with more difficulties than I encounter. They must travel their path and I must travel mine. I have made a conscious effort to change my life. Perhaps these people do not realise they have a choice, caught in the stream of life, they move with whoever seems to know what to do and where to go, the one who battles hardest again the flow and makes the most disturbance is the most easily seen, and they get lost in the struggle to emulate this prominent apparently successful example. Blinded by fear, fear of being different, fear of the unknown, fear of failure in a world ruled by material values. Full of fear they huddle together like sheep, for there is safety in numbers, so they say. But this stifles individual development, restricts their individual freedom. To always be looking outwards to what you want to be, to where you want to go, to be always searching for more material growth to satisfy the modern view of what a successful person should be like, in this there is no personal freedom, no personal happiness. To have the courage to look within to see who you are, to learn to know yourself, this I believe is the way to personal happiness and freedom. When you know who you are THEN you know the way forwards. This knowledge can I believe only be reached by searching within, if you do not know who you are. How can you possible come to know your own personal path (Tao). Trying to be what others would have us be is of no use. If we listen to others who believe they know what is best for us and then follow that advise blindly, this is surely foolish and places us in the same realm as automated machines and robots. Once we follow this path our actions become mechanical, predictable and no longer able to cope with the ever changing conditions that life puts before us. Reality is chaos and needs spontaneous action, not mechanical reactions. When the sea is rough it stirs up the sand near the shore and breaks away the coastline. Disturbed water in a pond brings the mud to the surface. A ruffled mind raises sediment to the surface and all manner of calamities follow. Looking at nature is one way I find useful to calm the mind, which allows the sediment to sink, so that my thoughts are purified again. Looking at the hills, mountains, lakes, rivers, the sea and open skies, one can learn to put ones own troubles in perspective, for in the great scheme of things they do not amount to much. But in the great scheme of things YOU count for a lot, everything in fact. The most important person in your life is YOU. The more you come to know your true self, who you really are, where you come from, the better balanced you will become, a truer reflection of the shining light. Your mind will become more tranquil and serenity will follow. But this act of gaining self knowledge can only be initiated by you, following someone else because they have a lifestyle that seems good or a disposition you think you would like to have too will not do it. A conscious effort on your part to be still, to look and see, to listen and hear what goes on outside of you and how this movement effects you. What emotions, desires and fears does this outward movement raise in you? By looking at yourself in this way whilst remaining calm, refusing to let the momentum on the outside effect you personal equilibrium, if you can train yourself to do this, then the true nature of the situation will become clear to you. If you allow yourself to enter into the situation, you will be affected by the disturbance and lose your clarity of thought and any action you may take in the light of this will be distorted to the degree that you are disturbed. Learning to still the mind and bring it under your control is of paramount importance if you to know who you are, what your path in life is. Logic, the man made tool used to define our external material world will have to be dispensed with temporarily, it has no use here it will only hinder progress, for logic interferes with the truth and tries to categories things placing them in compartments with the known, the collection of things learnt from past experiences and stored in memory. These experiences will never be repeated. You may experience similar circumstances but they will never be exactly the same. The new is always fresh, the vibrant truth cannot be linked to the past, the past is gone, irretrievable lifeless now, spent. The future awaits us. But the present is here right now, this is where the truth is, in the precious present. And to see it we must still the mind so we can experience it completely, see it clearly, just as it is. The mind to me is like the sea, the surface is easily ruffled by the wind but the deep waters are more tranquil. The surface of the mind the part we use in everyday life to deal with the necessities of survival, making a living etc is easily disturbed. By taking time to be alone, time to shut out everyday influences so the surface of the mind can be calmed, we can reach the deeper recesses of the mind, reach the source, become in touch with our true nature unfettered by the external movement of man. We cannot always be correct, our behaviour will always be seen by some to be bad no matter how hard we try to be good, the prospective of others and therefore their expectations will not always match ours. Yet we all have the right to exist as we are each unique, not one exactly the same.