A Folksinger's Philosophy:
"Travelling on the Way"


I have always wished I could clearly explain my philosophy, but it never seems that easy. I think it is because it is not a doctrine, it is much more an action, an experience, like playing music. I would say it is like physics and the natural world, that it is built out of a few essential building blocks, a few basic principles, yet it is only manifest in action, and like nature, there is such a gap between the reality of a waterfall or a butterfly and the few basic laws of physics that they manifest. The world is a very complex place, even though it is built on very basic principles and particles. One of the basic principle of my philosophy is that it doesn't explain anything, unlike so many religious doctrines or theories of this and that. It is in essense, motion and energy. It is not doing something, but a way of doing everything.

It has some distinct concepts, and some vague ones. It is something I have lived, rather than sought to explain. It is a pragmatic, practical philosophy that I have used and refined by doing and seeing what works, without trying to pin down just what I was doing or practicing or believed. Sometimes the practical and pragmatic evidence of experience has led me to believe things I can't easily explain or prove, except they work, so I use them. Still, the beauty of it is that it does come down to a few pretty simple principles that I have lived by. I believe that the most effective philosophy must be simple because life happens, it is in motion, a dance, and so you have to go with the moment, fluidly and spontaineously, and there isn't time to think it all out. So that much of my philoswophy rests upon a "sensory" explaination rather than an "intellectual" one, it is something I feel, rather than something I think. That is why it can be at times vague, yet at other times absolutely clear and undeniable. Like other senses, I can be wrong especially in complex situations where the feelings are vague or contradictory. That is why sometimes I can explain the "reasons", sometimes I can't, when the feelings are equally stong. That is why, even while I believe my philosophy, I can't say that I am always that good at following it, or that I have always even tried, or that it has been of any particular benefit to me, made me happy or successful.

So I will try to explain some of the basic principles I operate by, sometimes they relate to each other and overlap, sometimes they don't. Some could be defined as scientific (theoretically), some spiritual, some philosophical, sometimes they all overlap, sometimes they don't. I am really trying to describe a whole that is both woven of different threads, and more accurately described by looking at it from different angles, different facets, different sets of terms. Like I've said, I have lived my life, my Way, not tried to explain it (my dog and cat weren't particularly interested in explainations), though it has been a part of every conversation with so many people. I am a philosopher and have spent much time in thought and meditation in devloping my philosophy, though it was always more about application than defining a structure or philosophy. I have written for years in my journals, and occasionally attempted to explain something to someone in a letter. I doubt I have the time to try and describe it all now, if I even know what "all" is. So much is derivitative, taking up where others led me, and I can't start to explain the whole of eastern and western philosophy, science, and spirituality. What is more important is to say that while I did study these pretty extensively, I chose not to follow any path or doctrine, but to consciously try to move ahead, to evolve beyond those roots, taking what was good and practically useful from the source, and abandoning the conventions and doctrines that tradition and time have encumbered them with. So while I owe a lot to those I learned from, I did not follow them, but took from their experience and tried to forge a new path of my own. If I mirrored tradition, it was from my own conclusions, not by following tradition.

So I'll add to this piece by piece, principle by principle, and eventually I'll cover most of the important points. It doesn't seem that complicated.

Ki, Chi, the Energy

Philosophers, mystics, poets, and singers, we all like to speak in parables and similes. So I can conclude by saying...

...it is like I have waded in unknown waters in the dark. I make my way feeling the path with my feet, unable to see it, feeling it only roughly, only knowing it is there because it supports me, sometimes following a sure and firm support, sometimes finding nothing, and I swim for a while till I feel those rocks beneath me again. Have I stayed on the path, and simple crossed a part too deep to wade, or did I walk off into deep water till luck and currents unknown to me brought me once more to the path? Is it the same path? I do not know, all is darkness and water. But that path is the way, and the Way is where I am going, no matter what I might think, and that path is the Way.

...it is like I am walking through the woods in the dark, so dark I cannot see, yet my feet can feel the firm path beneath my feet. I try to follow that path, like I do in the real world, by feeling the way the path goes by my feet on the trail. I am following a star, sometimes clear between the trees ahead, sometimes lost in the crowding wood, perhaps lost from view on a path that twists and turns even as it leads me in the diretion I wish to go. I come to spots where the path is no longer smooth, or I stumble and fall, perhaps if I had only lifted my foot I would have missed that root, perhaps I have missed many roots because I lifted my foot. Perhaps the path is just not always smooth, it is hard, steep, muddy, or full of rocks or overgrown with brush, yet it is still the path, that will lead me where I need to go, if I can simply stay upon it. But I know I am on the path, and the path is the Way, because I do not encounter too much resistance, even if the trail is hard, because the way is smooth, or clear, or continues, unless I lose the Way, step off the path. perhaps I can alter my direction and come right back on the path, or perhaps I have lost it. Perhaps I have stumbled off the path, or lost it in a wide smooth place, and only know it because when the brush closes in, there is no openning, no path, no trail beneath my feet. I am crashing through the brush, my feet alwaystripping or tangled up, being whipped by branches, crashing into trees and rocks, falling into holes and gullys with no clear direction, all is resistance and suffering, hard without purpose or reason, without the knowledge that there is a trail beneath my feet. I have lost the path, I stumble and fall constantly, yet on I go because I must. Then eventually I break out from the clutches of the tangle and stumble out upon the path again and the way is clear. Is it the same path I was on? perhaps not, but it does not matter, it is the path I am on, and so I follow it. Or perhaps I see in a glimpse that I am going now the wrong way, and must turn around to follow the star, go the right way on this path. Maybe I need to leave this path and crash through the brush again seeking a better path, for there are many that can lead me to where I am going, and path leads to path, and it may take many paths to get to where I have to go, and a star is a clear yet vague thing to follow. Still, all those paths are the Way, and the star is really just a guide, not a destination. Perhaps in time, I need to chose another star to guide me, there are many stars. It is the right star as long as that star is guiding me on the Way.

Two men are sitting by a stream. One turns to the other and says "Important things can be said with few words."
A bit later, the other man replies, "Does this mean the most important things can be said with no words at all?"
The first man just smiles.