Sunday, November 11, 2018

baggage


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When we are hyper-vigilant, we fear everything and everything offends us.  We don't dare to move forward, as if we could reach the ultimate dwelling by leaving it to others to make the journey for us. Since that is impossible, why don't we exert ourselves, my friends, for love of our Beloved? Let's abandon our reason and fear into his hands. Forget about the weakness in our nature that we worry about so much. Let our families look after the safekeeping of our physical form; that's their concern. All we should focus on is getting to see this Beloved of ours as soon as possible.

Even if there is not much comfort on this path, we would be making a big mistake to fret about our health. Anxiety over our health does not improve it one bit; this I know.... The journey I'm talking about requires great humility... Unless we abandon ourselves, this state is arduous and burdensome. 
 We would be trudging under the load of our egos, like mud clinging to our boots and dragging us down.  Those who reach the ultimate dwelling bear no such baggage.




~ St. Teresa of Avila
from The Interior Castle
translation by Mirabai Starr
 art by Stephen Shortridge

Saturday, November 10, 2018

deepening



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He who attempts to act and do things for others or for the world 
without deepening his own self-understanding, 
freedom and integrity and capacity to love, 
will not have anything to give others. 

He will communicate to them nothing but the contagion 
of his own obsessions, his aggressiveness, his ego-centeredness, 
his delusions about the ends and means, 
his doctrinaire prejudices and ideas.


- Thomas Merton
from Contemplation in a World of Action
art by  Art Strayer

with thanks to louie, louie 



Friday, November 9, 2018

wild elegance







Beauty invites us towards profound elegance of soul.  It reminds us that we are heirs to elegance and nobility of spirit and encourages us to awaken the divinity within us.  We are no longer trapped in mental frames of self-reduction or self-denunciation.

Instead, we feel the desire to celebrate, to give ourselves over to the dance of joy and delight.   The overwhelming beauty which is God pervades the texture of our soul, transforming all smallness, limitation and self-division.  The mystics speak of the excitement of such unity.  This is how Marguerite Porete describes it: 

 'Such a Soul, says Love swims in the sea of joy, that is in the sea of delights, flowing and running out of the Divinity.  And so she feels no joy, for she is joy itself.  She swims and flows in Joy... for she dwells in Joy and Joy dwells in her.'   

When we acknowledge the wild beauty of God, we begin to glimpse the potential holiness of our neglected wildness.  As humans, citizens and believers, we have become domesticated beyond belief.  We have fallen out of rhythm with our natural wildness.  What we now call 'being wild' is often misshapen, destructive and violent.  The natural wildness as the fluency of the soul at one with beauty is foreign to us.  

The call of the wild is a call to the elemental levels of the soul, the places of intuition, kinship, swiftness, fluency and the consolation of the lonesome that is not lonely.  Our fear of our own wildness derives in part from our fear of the formless; but the wild is not the formless - it holds immense refinement and, indeed, clarity.  The wild has a profound simplicity that carries none of the false burdens of brokenness or self-conflict; it flows naturally as one, elegant and seamless.  






~ John O'Donohue
from The Invisible Embrace, Beauty
photo by Eliot Porter



inner wildness






Our bodies are wild. The involuntary quick turn of the head at a shout, the vertigo at looking off a precipice, the heart-in-the-throat in a moment of danger, the catch of the breath, the quiet moments relaxing, staring, reflecting – all universal responses of this mammal body… 

The body does not require the intercession of some conscious intellect to make it breathe, to keep the heart beating. It is to a great extent self-regulating, it is a life of its own. The world is our consciousness, and it surrounds us. There are more things in the mind, in the imagination, than ‘you’ can keep track of – thoughts, memories, images, angers, delights, rise unbidden. The depths of the mind, the unconscious, are our inner wilderness areas, and that is where a bobcat is right now. 

I do not mean personal bobcats in personal psyches, but the bobcat that roams from dream to dream. The conscious agenda-planning ego occupies a very tiny territory, a little cubicle somewhere near the gate, keeping track of some of what goes in and out, and the rest takes care of itself. The body is, so to speak, in the mind. They are both wild.




~ Gary Snyder
from The Practice of the Wild


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

kindness







 




I used to be libertarian. I used to be atheist. I used to want America to be more atheist libertarian.
All my voting, preaching, discussing and complaining reflected those desires. I'm still libertarian and atheist, and now I'm vegan to boot, but none of that matters any more. I no longer care.
All I want out of America now is kindness. That's all. The past few years have filled too many of our friends and neighbors with hate, and it breaks my heart. Some people started acting hateful, crazy and nasty so that they could win, and then people who disagreed with them acted the same way. They disagree in content but agree wholeheartedly in tone. 

So many of us now agree with the message of hate, and play "ideology" as team sports. The message doesn't matter when the medium is hate. My friends who work on TV, people I love personally, are using a tone and a meanness in their jobs that they never used before. Is hate where the money is? I don't know if fighting fire with fire actually works, but I do know that fighting hate with hate never works. 

It makes me cry. I've read about family members not invited to Thanksgiving because of political disagreements! The Clash sang "anger can be power" and I believed it. Maybe I still believe it, but maybe I don't want power any more. Can't we replace the word "evil" with the word "wrong?" Everyone is wrong sometimes and nobody is evil ever. The America I want is kind to people who are wrong. 

I'm like a dog, I don't hear words anymore, I just hear tone. Anyone whose tone is kind will get my complete support. Libertarian, Democrat, Republican, Socialist, Green . . . anything else you got. I've always been left out of team sports. I don't want to win enough. I'm not part of a team, I'm part of humanity. I want kindness. There's no other team for me. Let's love each other, and then discuss how to run our country together. 


~ Penn Jillette, of Penn & Teller
 with thanks to fivebranchtree


Monday, November 5, 2018

infinate gratitude to the past




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When I used to wake with night sweats my mind would spin in endless loops of anxiety, going over little irresolvable problems, like a miser counting pennies, unable to stop, to sleep. Even when I told myself there was truly nothing to worry about, and believed it, still, the wild worries persisted.  The ghosts of these attacks haunted me for years.



Sometimes it's okay. Sometimes it's not one desperate act after another. 
Sometimes we hear the music that is always there. As the old Irish homily goes:
 
"The most beautiful music is the music of what happens."
 
 It is not necessary to run to a remote, quiet place to hear it. It is here already, always. 
The essence of eternity is how we experience the present. 
The witnesses are here in ourselves. 
The fullness of our inheritance denies nothing.
 
...
 
The ravaged road goes on and on
in both directions.
Who can I ask to buy the bones?
 
Snow settles on hemlock and Yew.
This is enough.
To the end of my days
 Without end amen.
 
 
 

  ~ Terrance Keenan
from Zen Encounters with Lonliness
 with thanks to whiskey river


 

Saturday, November 3, 2018

love amid owl cries






It is not
the altar that matters,
not that,
nor the shape
that is found there.
The ghostly ideas
come and go, one after another.
But the place endures.
The fact that there is a door.




~ Jane Hirshfield

Friday, November 2, 2018

two sorts of loneliness


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I know of two sorts of loneliness.  One makes me feel dreadfully unhappy, lost and forlorn, the other makes me feel strong and happy.  The first always appears when I feel our of touch with my fellow men, with everything, when I am completely cut off from others and from myself and can see no purpose in life or any connection between things, nor have the slightest idea where I fit in.  

Withe the other kind of loneliness, by contrast, I feel very strong and certain and connected with everyone and everything and with God, and realize that I can manage on my own and that I am not dependent upon others.  Then I know that I am part of a meaningful whole and that I can impart a great deal of strength to others.



~ Etty Hillesum
from Etty Hillesum - Essential Writings 

 

education and conformity



Question: What are your ideas about education?
Krishnamurti: I think mere ideas are no good at all,  because one idea is as good as another, depending on whether the mind accepts or rejects it.  But perhaps it would be worthwhile to find out what we mean by education.  Let us see if we can think out together the whole significance of education, and not merely think in terms of my idea, or your idea, or the idea of some specialist.
Why do we educate our children at all?  Is it to help the child to understand the whole significance of life, or merely to prepare him to earn a livelihood in a particular culture or society?  Which is it that we want?  Not what we should want, or what is desirable, but what is it that we as parents actually insist on?  We want the child to conform, to be a respectable citizen in a corrupt society, in a society that is at war both within itself and with other societies, that is brutal, acquisitive, violent, greedy, with occasional spots of affection, tolerance and kindliness.  That is what we actually want, is it not?  If the child does not fit into society – whether it be communist, socialist, or capitalist – we are afraid of what will happen to him, so we begin to educate him to conform to the pattern of our own making.  That is all we want where the child is concerned, and that is essentially what is taking place.  And any revolt of the child against society, against the pattern of conformity, we call delinquency.
We want the children to conform; we want to control their minds, to shape their conduct, their way of living, so that they will fit into the pattern of society,  That is what every parent wants, is it not?  And that is exactly what is happening, whether it be in America or in Europe, in Russia or in India.  The pattern may vary slightly, but they all want the child to conform.
Now, is that education?  Or does education mean that the parents and the teachers themselves see the significance of the whole pattern, and are helping the child from the very beginning to be alert to all its influences?  Seeing the full significance of the pattern, with its religious, social and economic influences, its influences of class, of family,  of tradition – seeing the significance of all this for oneself and helping the child to understand and not be caught in it – that may be education. To educate the child may be to help him to be outside of society, so that he creates his own society.  Since our society is not at all what it should be, why encourage the child to stay within its pattern?
At present we force the child to conform to a social pattern which we have established individually, as a family, and as the collective; and he unfortunately inherits, not only our property, but some of our psychological characteristics as well.  So from the very beginning he is a slave to the environment.
Seeing all this, if we really love our children and are therefore deeply concerned about education, we will contrive from the very beginning to bring about an atmosphere which will encourage them to be free.  A few real educators have thought about all this, but unfortunately very few parents ever think about it at all.  We leave it to the experts – religion to the priest, psychology to the psychologist, and our children to the so-called teachers.  Surely, the parent is also the educator; he is the teacher, and also the one who learns – not only the child.
So this is a very complex problem, and if we really wish to resolve it we must go into it most profoundly; and then, I think, we shall find out how to bring about the right kind of education.


~ Krishnamurti, from his second talk in Brussels (June 25th 1956)