Equality Without Complex

We have the complex of superiority as human beings and we think we have that kind of intelligence, that kind of consciousness that other living beings do not have. But Iโ€™m not very proud of that kind of mind that we are using in daily life: the mind of discrimination caught by many notions, the foundation of all kind of suffering. We discriminate against this and that, and that creates complexes of superiority, inferiority, and equality.
~Thich Nhat Hanh

contemplative dinner mtn hike

While hiking up Deer Park’s sacred mountain
along with many friends on the path,
a koan intrigues my trickster mind,
“what keeps us all apart?”

equality without complex (4 of 9)

Sitting quietly, looking down at a leaf, suddenly
the cloud, the tree, & the logger reveal themselves.
Upon recognizing earth & sky within the leaf, also,
the wind briskly asks, “what side are you on?”

equality without complex (9 of 9)

Humbly mind answers, I’ve been on either side,
I’ve been on both sides,
and now I vow to taking no side
other than understanding, compassion & love.

sitting like Buddhas

Smiling under leaf’s tree to mountain sunset’s revelation
that freedom from the equality complex
is found by transforming an insatiable habit
of mind trying to make things equal.
Discriminating mind fails at:
recognizing its own conditions of happiness;
having sympathetic joy for other’s good fortune;
and cultivating empathy for other’s misfortune.

lotus koi pond ~d nelson

On the surface, me & so-called non-me
may seem as separate splashes & waves,
but underneath, all is water.
All of creation, seen & unseen, uniquely expressed
in the past, present & future cosmic oceans.
Such joy briefly experiencing inter-being
during an outrageous inner sunset among friends.


102 thoughts on “Equality Without Complex

  1. Sunny

    What wonderful photos, a generous glimpse into the tranquil grounds of Deer Park. I especially love the koi pond with the lotus pods and colorful, joyous fish! Thank you for this, David. I always enjoy what you post here.

    1. smilecalm Post author

      That we can be at Dear Park together
      makes me happy, Sunny.
      So many peaceful things to do & see.
      In case you’d like to hear the deep talks again
      from 9/12 to 9/17, they are here:

      Also, the inspired & entertaining Be-In:

      Retreat-ants, young & less-young, creatively share their joy & insights from the 9/2017 retreat. Playlist & times, below:
      Native flute intro 00:00 Jewish ceremony 2:41 People of color/ancestors 12:38 Raindrops 18:44 Let life move me 19:26 You do not walk alone 22:59 Vegetable chopping humor 27:13 Pirate’s treasure 32:20 Sisterhood dance 40:17 I like the roses, alt version 43:36 Pot washing tune 46:54 We’ve got mindful lives to live 48:00 Awakening song 50:30 Breathing in, feeling groovy 57:26 I am remembering 59:31 I see my self 1:05:31

  2. ViewPacific

    Beautiful images and thoughts. Thanks for writing. It feels like being along on that Deer Park walking meditation. ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ
    Indeed, how do our minds create mental formations to imagine us separate at all? Where is the edge of “us” and our breath, our water, our vision?
    How can there be sides when the inside can’t exist without the outside, the upside without the downside, the left side without the right side?

    1. smilecalm Post author

      smiling to your deep understanding, dear Vincent!
      There are many great physicists and thinkers
      continuing to ask those questions, as well!
      may the insight of happiness
      glow as you breathe
      in awareness, david ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. delphini510

    So much joy and beauty expressed by words and pictures.
    ” Such joy briefly experiencing inter-being
    during an outrageous inner sunset among friends.”
    Thank you David


  4. Claire

    What beautiful memories of our week of practice. You are a gift, indeed! I am so happy to be included in this lovely and wise memory bank! You found some lovely spots I shall have to return to see for myself! Until, then, David, I have your memory of the Buddha’s on the hill! Ah-h-h-h. In, Out, Deep, Slow .
    May the dandelions learn to always share with you the beautiful smile you have in common!

    1. smilecalm Post author

      wonderful having an earth holder
      family member visit with such happiness, Claire!
      isn’t it incredible what can be revealed
      within a tiny leaf,
      a dandelion
      or a single breath?
      wishing you gentle
      calm breaths ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Rosaliene Bacchus

    David, thanks for sharing your “mountain sunset’s revelation.” You quiet my troubled mind weighed down with thoughts of humanity’s self-destructive behavior. Mother Nature does not take sides. The Sun shines on the good and the bad, the male and the female. Power-packed hurricanes pummel the homes of the rich and the poor.

    “but underneath, all is water.” Water is soft and yielding, Lao-tzu notes in the Tao Te Ching, yet nothing can surpass it for dissolving the hard and inflexible.

    1. smilecalm Post author

      thank you for your kind words
      & efforts to bring fairness and justice
      to others in the world, Rosaliene!
      i find it consoling that we can care
      by seeing our connection
      and not our separation,
      swimming together
      in this fishbowl ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Healing Grief

    A beautiful reminder David of oneness and our resistance to accept and understand this in every part of our life. Knowing ‘I am’ all these things, creates expansion and freedom within and gives space to welcome in everything. Your photos connect us to that expansion. ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป

    1. smilecalm Post author

      thank you, kind Karen!
      smiling to sharing a personal insight for me & reminder for others of us
      to reduce the me & cultivate
      the we.
      my camera smiles, also
      to being included
      in your kindness ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Tom's Nature-up-close Photography and Mindfulness Blog

    One can believe in a religious system which one likes, which (with others in your circle) gives comfort and security, all this involving the same set of people who adhere to the same cherished beliefs. Other groups believe in other things, and though they talk of oneness, these religious statues and systems directly cause division and separation in the world. Religions (though they all talk about unity) and their dead statues have separated and divided people. These include the Christians, the Buddhists, the Hindus, the Muslims, and, of course, the Baptists and other so-called organized denominations. Even as a child i thought that the statues in the church that i was forced to attend daily were a damn dead (indoctrinating) utter waste of time.

    1. smilecalm Post author

      thanks Tom for sharing your experience with religion. as you say, there is a sad legacy of death & destruction by our spiritual ancestors in the name of religion. i believe it’s possible to beautifully continue in the footsteps of achieved masters and wise teachers. i appreciate your honesty and welcome your diligent comments. smiles, david

      1. Tom's Nature-up-close Photography and Mindfulness Blog

        Except that anyone who is arrogant enough and superficial enough to call himself a master, in a religious realm, hasn’t really achieved anything (other than likely deluding gullible people). All of these manmade (concocted) systems — which are supposedly spiritual — happen to have men in hierarchical positions in them. Any truly enlightened man would never (ever) call himself a master (or spiritual teacher) or allow such mischievous labeling.

        True peace and unity (of man) are far more than meeting in a field and temporarily being simple beyond separate (concocted) systems. It means dropping those systems fundamentally and lastingly. However, people don’t usually do that… and the world is a mess as the result.

        Stay perceptive and unattached, David! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. sasokisoaps

    Thankyou smilecalm for the reminder. A comforting undertow in turbulent times. I am not religious, but the words that came to my mind on reading this were “bless you”.

    1. smilecalm Post author

      why, thank you, dear sarah
      for the blessing.
      while i don’t consider myself religious per se
      i do acknowledge & respect those who have achieved mastery & great wisdom
      in their quest to find meaning in their existence & connect to all beings. insights pertinent to us all, imho. in this post i revealed my breaking down of barriers to simply saying hello, or reaching out to anyone, despite perceived differences & expectations.
      to let go of an equality complex.
      wishing you happiness
      one breath at a time, david ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Alison and Don

    Beautiful David. This reminds me of Rumi’s poem:
    Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
    there is a field. Iโ€™ll meet you there.

    When the soul lies down in that grass,
    the world is too full to talk about.
    Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
    doesnโ€™t make any sense.
    Alison โค

    1. smilecalm Post author

      offering Rumi poetry to this post
      brings me inspired joy, Alison!
      may we all calm the comparing mind
      and truly experience the interconnection
      which has always been blooming ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. JoAnna

    As I experience these words and pictures, I’m comforted by the balance of earth, air, and water, along with fire in the setting sun an in the color of the koi..plus something about the bell… all different elements connecting in harmony. Feeling blessed.

    1. smilecalm Post author

      i’m happy that the colors
      & shapes posted here touched
      your deep compassion for the earth
      and all of us dwelling on it, JoAnna!
      that resounds like a blessing.
      can i have a bell, please
      ding ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. smilecalm Post author

      imagining that your number
      only experienced being one,
      even though separate
      they never lost sight
      that the others are also jewels
      in humanity’s treasure chest,
      despite their varied colors, size or carats ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. niasunset

    Life is not complex actually, everything works as a clock… we create all complex or chaotic things.
    Wonderful photographs dear David, I loved them all. And as always words are great.
    Thank you, Love, nia

  12. Jet Eliot

    Thank you for this visit to Deer Mountain, David, the sunset, the peace. I enjoyed your photos, especially the koi pond with lotus, and the perspective from the Buddha looking down at the one leaf. It is your words that sunk in, slowed me down, gave me meditative insight, and I thank you for that. Also got a smile out of the Mindful Bump. You always give me something special, and I appreciate it.

    1. smilecalm Post author

      i’m happy i could offer
      & you could accept
      a little mindful bump, Jet!
      it is a beautiful place,
      supportive of looking
      into that leaf
      and seeing ourselves ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Annika Perry

    Beautiful photos and words, David which resonate with peace and calm. I feel I’m with you there, on top of the rock, watching the sunset, experiencing ‘an outrageous inner sunset among friends’. Fantastic phrasing!! Wishing you many such moments…๐Ÿ˜€

    1. smilecalm Post author

      thank you for your kindness, dear inese!
      it’s the wisdom of non-discrimination
      from my teacher from Vietnam,
      who did not side with the north,
      the south or any warring group
      during the war; for which he was exiled ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Cate

    Joni Mitchell’s beautiful “Both Sides Now” has been on my mind lately, and your post evokes it again: Seeing things one way, then another; eventually realizing we don’t know at all. Something sad and yet wise in acknowledging that all our certainty eventually come to naught. Thanks for the reflection and images, David; I especially love the resplendent koi!

    1. smilecalm Post author

      smiling to your kindness and understanding, Cate!
      a wonderful song to bring into this post;
      to experience both sides and still be happy
      with not knowing either side, really,
      but only illusions ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Dennis the Vizsla

    hello smilecalm its dennis the vizsla dog hay hmm mindful bump that is a better naym for that thing then speed bump!!! speeking of minds yoo ar rite it wood be nice if hyoomans with there big minds cud figger owt a way to all be in the saym pak insted of always finding noo ways to hayt eetch other i wunder if it wil ever happen!!! ok bye

  16. Ka Malana - Fiestaestrellas.com

    Every time that arises when Deer Park is an option
    for a day trip, that particular day’s open-time is canceled from the schedule.
    The likelihood for alignment draws nearer!

    Soaked up the colors and images here. Words for pondering lovingly.
    Never mind what the mind is good and not good at non-doing ๐Ÿ™‚ Maybe Koans comprise all of our languaging inter-being. That sentence just wrote itself!

    Bless my friend and all equally…
    Thank you, David

    1. smilecalm Post author

      with each mindful breath
      calm insights are possible, susan!
      Deer Park does offer an environment that supports inner peace & personal insights.
      i used to drive there many hours when i lived in rural AZ
      but, perhaps there’s a meditation gathering closer by
      to be in the presence of others with your aspirations.
      wishing you happy success ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. J.D. Riso

    Such rich beauty in those photos. There is so much pressure to take sides nowadays. It’s a challenge for those of us who wish to avoid it. Congratulations on finding your outrageous inner sunset.

  18. Sue Dreamwalker

    David, I love the wisdom you always bring with your poetic words that always manage to bring calm and peace. We are all upon these cosmic waves, searching to find that which often eludes us.. ‘Happiness’! Mainly because people search in the wrong places..
    Deer Park looks to be a beautiful place and to share it with beautiful people and to watch the magic of the Sun, must have been inspiring.
    Your words ….
    ” Iโ€™ve been on either side,
    Iโ€™ve been on both sides,
    and now I vow to taking no side
    other than understanding, compassion & love.”
    Yes, learning that to BE, means coming back into our centres, our hearts, looking within, and holding that middle ground. Finding Peace, within, becoming the observer. Seeing the leaf was once young and fresh, sprouting with vitality as the sap rose from deep within the tree roots.. It turned this way and that, bending and shaping to the wind.. soaking up the suns rays, helping absorb and release.. as it breathed in and out..
    And then as in all cycles, it was time to let go, As the tree withdrew her energy, to conserve and protect herself in readiness for winter..
    Yet even then that small leaf, is so precious, for it goes back to our Earth, to help bring more nutrients to the tree..

    Such is the tree of Life.. Nothing is ever lost, nothing is ever wasted.. So long as we learn from the leaf.. That nothing is permanent All things are in motion.. All things change and flow.. Are One..

    Thank you for pushing my thought buttons this morning David… I so loved your post with all your excellent photos.. I am feeling much at peace this morning.. My daughter is out in Bali right now, on her own spiritual quest visiting many temples.. And even though I hear the volcano there is shaking.. All things I know are meant to be.. And so be it..
    Love and Peace to you David.
    Blessings and Thank you for sharing
    Sue ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ’œ

    1. smilecalm Post author

      thank you for gently falling
      along with me in that leaf, dear Sue!
      i smile to your seeing we are the tree,
      the soil, the water, the roots.
      Deer Park is beautiful in part
      because it’s a gathering place,
      i image others gathering at your garden
      and experiencing connection & inner sunsets, together.
      may your daughter experience her aspiration
      and inner volcano’s explosion of happiness ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Sue Dreamwalker

        Thank you David.. And yes we are the tree.. ๐Ÿ™‚ And my daughter and the group she is with are all of like mind and are exploring the temples, they are a very spiritual group of people, much like the group you are with, Who are both connecting with the earth and their higher selves. ๐Ÿ˜€ ..
        Wishing you a Peaceful weekend David

  19. Michael

    Beautiful words and images, David. I’m reminded in reading your words about how we have this habit of trying to make ourselves out of our decisions. As if we have this crazy power to determine who and what we are. It feels when I just sink into being, I can then remember the sensation of being in love, and recognize how we all are capable of sharing in that voluminous space together…

    Thank you for the inspiration!

    1. smilecalm Post author

      i’m happily seeing you resting
      in that open heart-mind space,
      grinning at the efforts to think
      or feel away the love!
      no chance, Michael wins,
      so we all can win.
      i’m not getting
      tired of this winning ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Poet Rummager

    It moves me how you reflect upon kindness and compassion. I’m happy to see you spread your positive thoughts — let’s hope your generous soul turns off some of the divisiveness in our world. โค๏ธ๐ŸŒโ˜ฎ๏ธ


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