Category Archives: Hua Hu Ching

The spontaneity of true friendship

“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself.”
-Jim Morrison

“No book ever ends
When it’s full of your friends.”

– Roald Dahl

“We’ll be friends forever won’t we Pooh?” asked Piglet “Even longer,” Pooh answered.”

– A.A. Milne

Pooh and Christopher

Driving home from a late-night gig, I got a text from a friend in another time zone. I had been meaning to talk to this particular friend for over a month.   Julia and I were almost home and we had to get up early. It would have been ‘virtually’ no trouble at all to wish him well and postpone an actual conversation.  Instead, at ten minutes to 1am, I called him.  We jumped right in as if no time had elapsed between our last conversing. This kind of friendship is not dependent on rehashing our history but delights in splashing around in the moment.  He said that many of his friends get married and he is never able to talk to them without their spouses. However, with Julia and I, not only didn’t he mind, he said it was honestly refreshing to talk to both of us.  I understood what he meant about sometimes wanting to have a connection with a friend without their partner because what friendship offers us is a chance to be fully ourselves without pretense or hesitation.

There are so many restrictions on our being that we navigate through on a daily basis, we are not even aware why we feel so worn out most of the time.  With social media, we can see our friends, we can read texts, we can check our emails on our phones but there is nothing like direct contact.  I get a certain thrill when I see people reading actual books on the subway.  The other day, I saw a man reading a book about meditation and I decided to pull out a book as well in solidarity.  I started to read and the man next to me woke up and we had a wordless friendly exchange.  I am not sure he even spoke English but we smiled with one another and were augmented by our actually taking one another in.

The book I was reading was Lao Tzu’s Hua Hu Ching and he was talking about cultivating a, “natural love and respect for one’s being …one’s own being and everything in one’s environment are seen as divine in and of themselves… one may transcend all transient trivialities… it (this love and respect for one’s being) also reconnects one with the deep and constant nature of the universe.”*

Lao Tzu

That is why I have always reveled in the spontaneity of true friendship, it breaks the restrictive bonds of everything that must be accomplished to survive and instantly “reconnects one with the deep and constant nature of the universe.”

I used to say that a true exchange between friends was a battery charge. My uncle Jeff used to say that no matter how big your battery was, if you were relying only on yourself, your battery would run down but if you plugged into the wall socket…  So, perhaps true friendship isn’t about how much time we spend with one another or any tally of who gave what when but in one another’s presence, we find we are plugged in, the current is flowing, and our cup is overflowing.


Here’s to true friendship, may it break the bonds of conformity and bring us back fully to all that we are, which cannot be contained!

Love you, Ira

*- From The Complete Works of Lao Tzu, Translation and Elucidation by Hua-Ching Ni

Reviving the heart of humanity

“I can see you are me in disguise.”- The Levins

“The shell of a book can be burned…but no one can damage the subtle truth that is beyond any form. – Hua-Ching Ni


Suffragette pic

Last week we watched the movie Suffragette .  It is astounding how much we have suffered and still struggle to go beyond form.  That women should have been pushed to the point of violent social protest to gain the right to vote, especially at a time when they were slaving away in factories, could have been enough to wake us up.

While we were visiting Julia’s sister in Iowa, we all watched the president host a televised Town Hall meeting to address racial tension. More than a hundred and fifty years after the Civil War, that we even need to have a movement called “Black Lives Matter” is beyond disgraceful. It is another call for us to look beyond our current form and become aware of the stream running through everything that is.

Lao Tzu, author of the Tao Teh Ching and Hua Hu Ching said, “The confrontational nature of duality is merely an illusory product of the mind. In order to perceive the integral reality of the universe, it is necessary to transcend the mental process of separation and fragmentation.”

He also said, “There is no separation.  (One) is not the isolated individual (they) thought (themselves) to be. All divine, subtle beings, all enlightened beings are one with (them.)  What happiness one experiences in that state of consciousness!”*

On our way back east, Julia and I played a house concert in Kent Ohio.  Not only were there friends present that strengthen our Judaic-Celtic connection but there was a beautiful Iranian Islamic couple who were huge fans of Hafiz.  They saw our CD: My Friend Hafiz before we played and asked if that was their Hafiz.  Once again, the fourteenth century mystic poet raised the roof of our molecular structure so that we were able to bond beyond seeming separation.

Women, men, Black, White, Hispanic, Gay, Transgender, Disabled… Despite the current political climate, which is acting as a lightning rod to our basest reactions, I still believe we are right on the cusp of recognizing that being attached to form only causes our suffering to increase. The actress Elaine Stritch said she wasn’t old, she was getting older… and that we are all going that way. We are all heading towards releasing this current form, still we cling to it as if that is all there is.


We battle to gain equality.  We collectively oppress ourselves because some of our disguises seem to  give us a decided advantage.  But I agree with President Obama when he says, “Reject cynicism, reject fear, to summon what’s best in us.”

Last night Dr. Rev. William Barber said, “When we love the Jewish child, and the Palestinian child…when we love the Muslim and the Christian and the Hindu and the Buddhist and those who have no faith, but they love this nation…we are reviving the heart of our democracy.”

This doesn’t just go for this nation but for the world, not just for democracy but the heart of our humanity.

Through our journey towards accepting that we are all just playing hide and seek, may your bond with those around you be motivated by love so that you can celebrate your current form without attachment.


*- Lao Tzu/ Hua Hu Ching – translated and elucidated by Hua-Ching Ni