Sunday, May 20, 2018

pain and pleasure

Human beings try to avoid pain by setting up permanent zones of pleasure. 
The mind is always seeking to create permanent territories of pleasure to avoid pain. 
But these zones, what we might call 'zones of safety' don't last. 
They always fall apart, and because they are fleeting, 
then we scramble to find another zone of pleasure to help us forget our pain. 
This going round and round is what we mean by samsara. 
Hell is just resistance to life. It's counter-intuitive, but if we stop, 
become curious about the pain, learn to befriend it 
and work with it, actually learn how to be genuine friends 
of ourselves, then the pleasures of life become authentic pleasures 
as opposed to numbing agents, anesthetizing us from our genuine experience.

~ Pema Chodron, 
Dharma talk, Karma Dzong, Boulder, Colorado, 1999
 art by Edvard Munch

separation is painful

When you have understood that all existence, in separation and limitation, is painful,
and when you are willing and able to live integrally, in oneness with all life, as pure being,
you have gone beyond all need of help.
You can help another by precept and example and, above all, by your being.
You cannot give what you do not have and you don't have what you are not.
You can only give what you are - and of that you can give limitlessly.

- Nisargadatta Maharaj



When another person makes you suffer, 
it is because he suffers deeply within himself, 
and his suffering is spilling over. 

He does not need punishment; he needs help. 
That’s the message he is sending.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Thursday, May 17, 2018

every time

Let people realize clearly that every time they threaten someone or humiliate or unnecessarily hurt or dominate or reject another human being, they become forces for the creation of psychopathology, even if these be small forces. Let them recognize that every person who is kind, helpful, decent, psychologically democratic, affectionate, and warm, is a psychotheraputic force.

  ~ Abraham H. Maslow

Sunday, May 13, 2018

untouched and untasted


We usually do not look into what is really there in front of us. 
We see life through a screen of thoughts and concepts, and we mistake 
those mental objects for reality. We get so caught up 
in this endless thought-stream that reality flows by unnoticed. 
We spend our time engrossed in activity, caught up 
in an eternal flight from pain and unpleasantness. 
We spend our energies trying to make ourselves feel better,
 trying to bury our fears. We are endlessly seeking security. 
Meanwhile, the world of real experience flows by 
untouched and untasted.

~ Henepola Gunaratana, 
from Mindfulness In Plain English

generosity of self

We should not force ourselves to change by hammering our lives into any predetermined shape. We do not need to operate according to the idea of a predetermined program or plan for our lives. Rather, we need to practice a new art of attention to our inner rhythm of our days and lives. This attention brings a new awareness of our own human and divine presence. A dramatic example of this kind of transfiguration is the one all parents know. You watch your children carefully, but one day they surprise you; you still recognize them, but your knowledge of them is insufficient. You have to start listening to them all over again.

It is far more creative to work with the idea of mindfulness rather than with the idea of will. Too often people try to change their lives by using the will as a kind of hammer to beat their life into proper shape. The intellect identifies the goal of the program, and the will accordingly forces the life into that shape. This way of approaching the sacredness of one’s own presence is externalistic and violent. It brings you falsely outside your own self and you can spend years lost in the wilderness of your own mechanical, spiritual programs. You can perish in a famine of your own making.

If you work with a different rhythm, you will come easily and naturally home to your self. Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has a map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of your self. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more importantly it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey. There are no general principles for this art of being. Yet the signature of this unique journey is inscribed deeply in each soul. If you attend to your self and seek to come into your own presence, you will find exactly the right rhythm for your life. The senses are generous pathways which can bring you home.

~ John O’Donohue 
from Anam Cara 
art by Odilon Redon

water becomes one with water

When a wise man has withdrawn his mind from all things without, 
and when his spirit has peacefully left all inner sensations, 
let him rest in peace, free from the movement of will and desire. ... 

For it has been said: There is something beyond our mind, 
which abides in silence within our mind. 
It is the supreme mystery beyond thought. 
Let one's mind and subtle spirit rest upon that and nothing else. 

... When the mind is silent, 
beyond weakness and distraction, 
then it can enter into a world, 
which is far beyond the mind: the supreme Destination. ... 
Then one knows the joy of Eternity. ... 
Words cannot describe the joy of the soul 
whose impurities are washed away in the depths of contemplation, 
who is one with the Atman, his own Self. 
Only those who experience this joy know what it is. ... 
As water becomes one with water, 
fire with fire, 
and air with air, 
so the mind becomes one with the infinite Mind 
and thus attains Freedom. 

~ Maitreya Upanishad

Saturday, May 5, 2018

see another?

Where there is a duality, as it were, there one sees another; 
there one smells another; there one tastes another; there one speaks to another ...

But where everything has become just one's own self,
 Then whereby and whom would one see? 
Then whereby and whom would one smell? 
Then whereby and to whom would one speak? 
Then whereby and whom would one hear? 
Then whereby and of whom would one think? 
Then whereby and whom would one touch?
 Then whereby and whom would one understand?

~  Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

there is some kiss

There is some kiss we want with our whole lives, the touch of
spirit on the body. Ocean water begs the pearl to break its shell.

And the lily, how passionately it needs some wild darling! At
night, I open the window and ask the moon to come and press its

face against mine, Breathe into me, Close the language-door and 
open the love-window. The moon won't use the door, only the window.

~ Rumi 

Friday, May 4, 2018

the grace

The time of judging
Who is drunk or sober,
Who is right and who is wrong,
Who is closer to god, and who is farther away,
All that is over.

This caravan is led instead by a great delight,
The simple joy that sits with us now.

That is the grace.

~ Hafiz


I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.
I prefer, where love's concerned, nonspecific anniversaries
that can be celebrated every day.
I prefer moralists
who promise me nothing.
I prefer cunning kindness to the over-trustful kind.
I prefer the earth in civvies.
I prefer conquered to conquering countries.
I prefer having some reservations.
I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order.
I prefer Grimms' fairy tales to the newspapers' front pages.
I prefer leaves without flowers to flowers without leaves.
I prefer dogs with uncropped tails.
I prefer light eyes, since mine are dark.
I prefer desk drawers.
I prefer many things that I haven't mentioned here
to many things I've also left unsaid.
I prefer zeroes on the loose
to those lined up behind a cipher.
I prefer the time of insects to the time of stars.
I prefer to knock on wood.
I prefer not to ask how much longer and when.
I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility
that existence has its own reason for being.

–Wislawa Szymborska
excerpt from Nothing Twice, 1997
Translated by S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh

Sunday, April 29, 2018

pain and healing

And a woman spoke, saying, Tell us of Pain.
And he said:

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, 

so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, 

your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, 

even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.

Much of your pain is self-chosen,
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility:
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, 

has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened 
with His own sacred tears.

~ Kahlil Gibran
from The Prophet
 art by Sean Lewis

Thursday, April 26, 2018

to heal

Sakyamuni (Buddha) himself refused to answer speculative questions, 
and he would not permit abstract philosophical discussion.  

His doctrine was not a doctrine but a way of being in the world.  
His religion was not a set of beliefs and convictions or of rites and sacraments,
 but an opening to love.  

His philosophy was not a world view but a significant silence,
 in which the fracture implied by conceptual knowledge 
was allowed to heal and reality appeared again in its mysterious

~ Thomas Merton
from Zen and the Birds of Appetite


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

no better love

No better love than love with no object,
no more satisfying work than work with no purpose.

If you could give up tricks and cleverness,
that would be the cleverest trick!

~ Rumi
from The Essential Rumi
translations by Coleman Barks with John Moyne

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

open space

Only in an open, nonjudgmental space can we acknowledge what we are feeling.
Only in an open space where we're not all caught up
 in our own version of reality can we see
 and hear and feel who others really are, 
which allows us to be with them and 
communicate with them properly.

We habitually erect a barrier called blame that keeps us from communicating genuinely with others, and we fortify it with our concepts of who's right and who's wrong. We do that with the people who are closest to us, and we do it with political systems, with all kinds of things that we don't like about our associates or our society. 
Blaming is a way to protect our hearts, to try to protect what is soft and open and tender in ourselves.
Blame is away in which we solidify ourselves. Not only do we point the finger when something is "wrong," but we also want to make it "right."

We start with ourselves. We make ourselves right or wrong, every day, every week, every month and year of our lives.  When we feel right, we feel good, especially if we have people agreeing with us about how right we are. Suppose someone disagrees, then what?  Do we find ourselves getting angry and aggressive?  We might see that this is what wars are make of. Whether we judge ourselves "right" or "wrong," the judgement gives us the satisfaction of "knowing." This way we avoid the awkward unsettled uncomfortableness of continuing to look more deeply at our words or behavior.

Until we can become comfortable hanging out with ourselves without leaping to judgement it will be very difficult to just be with another, to share and be truly compassionate. Learning to accept and live in a space of the awkwardness of not knowing, to replace self-judgement with gentleness is needed to move into the broken-open hearted  compassion that truly reflects who we are.

~ Pema Chodron
from When Things Fall Apart