Saturday, July 31, 2021

impermanence, respect and value every moment

Impermanence does not necessarily lead us to suffering. 

Without impermanence, life could not be. 
Without impermanence, your daughter could not grow
 into a beautiful young lady. Without impermanence, 
oppressive political regimes would never change. 
We think impermanence makes us suffer. 
The Buddha gave the example of a dog that was hit by a stone 
and got angry at the stone. It is not impermanence that makes us suffer.
 What makes us suffer is 
wanting things to be permanent
 when they are not.

We need to learn to appreciate the value of impermanence. 

If we are in good health and are aware of impermanence, 
we will take good care of ourselves. 
When we know that the person we love is impermanent, 
we will cherish our beloved all the more. 
Impermanence teaches us to respect and value every moment 
and all the precious things around us and inside of us.
 When we practice mindfulness of impermanence,
 we become fresher and more loving. 

Looking deeply can become a way of life. 

We can practice conscious breathing to help us be in touch
 with things and to look deeply at their impermanent nature.
 This practice will keep us from complaining that everything
 is impermanent and therefore not worth living for.

 Impermanence is what makes transformation possible. 
We should learn to say,
 “Long live impermanence”.
 Thanks to impermanence, 
we can change sufferings into joy.

~Thich Nhat Hanh 
from No Death No Fear 

Thursday, July 15, 2021

practicing love



I don’t practice any particular prayer discipline.
 I have no specific technique I use to meditate. 
I know these methods work for many people. 
But for me, when I tried them, I just spent all my time 
rejecting my wandering thoughts, over and over.
 I’ve tried to practice these disciplines, but now I don’t worry about them anymore.
 Their only purpose anyway is to bring a person to union with God. 
Why should I fast or set aside particular prayer times or deny myself 
in some way when I’ve found the shortcut?
 If every moment I’m consciously practicing love, 
doing all things for God’s sake, then I don’t need to worry 
about these spiritual methods.

My thoughts are the biggest obstacles to this way of living my life. 
The little useless thoughts that drift through my head, making mischief,
 distracting me. I’ve learned to reject them as soon as I notice them.
 They have nothing to do with the reality at hand—
nor with my eternal salvation—
and once I stop paying attention to them, 
I can get back to communing with God.

I have abandoned all particular forms of devotion,
 all prayer techniques. My only prayer practice is attention.
 I carry on a habitual, silent, and secret conversation with God 
that fills me with overwhelming joy.

When we walk in the presence of God, the busiest moment of the day 
is no different from the quiet of a prayer altar. Even in the midst of noise
 and clutter, while people’s voices are coming at you from all directions,
 asking for your help with many different things, you can possess God
 with the same serenity as if you were on your knees in church.

I can’t always maintain my focus on God, of course.
 I’ll suddenly discover that I’ve barely given God a thought in a good long while.
 Usually what gets my attention is that I’ll notice how wretched I’m feeling—
and then I’ll realize I’ve forgotten God’s presence. But I don’t worry about it
 too much. I just turn back to God immediately.
 And having realized how miserable I am when I forget God, 
my trust in God is always that much greater.

The Divine Presence occupies the here and now.
 If you are not aware of this—become so!
 ~ Brother Lawrence
from Brother Lawrence: A Christian Zen Master
 with thanks to Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

abandoning the self-center


 ~ Joseph Goldstein

between seeing and speaking

Somewhere between seeing and speaking, somewhere
Between our soiled and greasy currency of words
And the first star, the great moths fluttering
About the ghosts of flowers,
Lies the clear place where I, no longer I,
Nevertheless remember
Love’s nightlong wisdom of the other shore…

 I no longer I,
In this clear place between my thought and silence
See all I had and lost, anguish and joys,
Glowing like gentians in the Alpine grass,
Blue, unpossessed and open.

~ Aldous Huxley
from Island

when you speak


 Pay attention when you speak the rest of the time, the best you're able, 
and listen to your heart. See if you can begin practicing 
letting your words come from your heart.
 A good clue for this is if you're in a conversation that lasts more than five minutes, 
so you've been talking for awhile, pause, or wake up for a second
 in the middle of it, and ask inside, "Now, what does my heart really want to say?" 
You're having this conversation. "What's in there that really wants to be said?
 Maybe I won't see this person ever again. What do I really want to say?" 
That can begin to empower your speech, to transform it 
from automatic pilot to the place where you start to wake up.
 It's fantastic. It's really wonderful to work with.

Most of us value integrity. It really lights up the heart
 to think about living in a way that comes from inside, 
where our actions, our words, and our inner being are connected. 
It's very precious. In the Buddhist tradition they're given as training precepts,
 training precepts which we practice. It's not some God -- given law that we must follow,
 but precepts which we begin to practice -- 
to begin to learn to live our life from our hearts, 
to live our life, as I said, with an uprightness of heart.


~ Carlos Castaneda

train yourself thus


 The Buddha outlined a practice for staying mindful
 of how another person is addressing us, without getting caught up in our own reactivity, 
remaining compassionate for their welfare, with a mind of lovingkindness.

... there are five courses of speech that others may
use when they address you: their speech may be timely or
untimely, true or untrue, gentle or harsh, connected with
good or with harm, spoken with a mind of lovingkindness
or with inner hate....
you should train yourselves thus:
Our minds will remain unaffected, and we shall utter no
evil words; we shall abide compassionate for their welfare,
with a mind of lovingkindness...
 ~ Buddha
 from Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening
by Joseph Goldstein

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

abandon yourself

People say: "O Lord, how much I wish that I stood as well with God,
 that I had as much devotion and peace in God as others have. 
 I wish that it were so with me!"  Or "I should like to be poor." or else
Things will never go right for me till I am in this place or that,
 or till I act one way or another.  I must go and live in a strange land, 
or in a hermitage, or in a cloister."  

In fact, this is all about yourself, and nothing else at all.  
This is just self-will, only you do not know it, or it does not seem so to you. 
 There is never any trouble that starts in you that does not come from your own will,
 whether people see this or not.  We can think what we like:
 that a man ought to shun one thing or pursue another -
 places and people and ways of life and environments and undertakings. 
 That is not the trouble; such ways of life or such matters are not what impedes you.
  It is what you are in these things that causes the trouble, 
because in them you do not govern yourself as you should.

Therefore, make a start with yourself, and abandon yourself. 
 Truly, if you do not begin by getting away from yourself,
 wherever you run to, you will find obstacles and trouble wherever it may be. 
 People who seek peace in external things - be it in places or ways of life
 or people or activities or solitude or poverty or degradation -
 however great such a thing may be or whatever it may be, 
still it is all nothing and it gives no peace.
  People who seek in that way are doing it all wrong;  
the further they wander, the less will they find what they are seeking.  
They go around like someone who has lost his way; 
 the farther he goes, the more lost he is.  
Then what ought he to do?  He ought to begin by forsaking himself,
 because then he has forsaken everything.  Truly, if a man renounced 
a kingdom or the whole world but held on to himself,
 he would not have renounced anything.  
What is more, if a man renounces himself, 
 whatever else he retains, riches or honors or whatever it may be,
 he has forsaken everything.  

About what Saint Peter said: "See, Lord, we have forsaken everything" (Matt. 19:27) -
 and all that he had forsaken was just a net and his little boat -
 there is a saint who says: "If anyone willingly gives up something little,
 that is not all which he has given up, but he has forsaken everything 
that worldly men can gain and what they can even long for; 
for whoever has renounced his own will and himself, has renounced everything,
 as truly as if he had possessed it as his own, to dispose of as he would."
 For what you choose not to long for, you have wholly forsaken and renounced
 for the love of God.  That is why our Lord said: "Blessed are the poor in spirit" (Matt 5:3)  -
 that is, in the will.  And no one ought to be in doubt about this;
 if there were a better form of living, our Lord would have said so,
 as he also said: "Whoever wishes to come after me, let him deny himself" (Matt 16:24);
 as a beginning; everything depends on that.  
Take a look at yourself, 
and whenever you find yourself deny yourself.  
That is the best of all.

~ Meister Eckhart
from Selections from His Essential Writings,
Counsels on Discernment

Monday, July 12, 2021

patlience in our sadnesses


It seems to me that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension, 
which we feel as paralysis because we no longer hear our astonished emotions living.
 Because we are alone with the unfamiliar presence that has entered us; 
because everything we trust and are used to is for a moment taken away
 from us; because we stand in the midst of a transition 
where we cannot remain standing. 
That is why the sadness passes: the new presence inside us,
 the presence that has been added, has entered our heart,
 has gone into its innermost chamber and is no longer even there, – 
is already in our bloodstream. And we don’t know what it was. 
We could easily be made to believe that nothing happened, 
and yet we have changed, as a house that a guest has entered changes. 
We can’t say who has come, perhaps we will never know, 
but many signs indicate that the future enters us in this way
 in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens. 
And that is why it is so important to be solitary and attentive when one is sad:
 because the seemingly uneventful and motionless moment 
when our future steps into us is so much closer to life
 than that other loud and accidental point of time when it happens to us
 as if from outside. The quieter we are, the more patient and open 
we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence
 can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, 
the more it becomes our fate.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke


Sunday, July 11, 2021

unfulfilled desires

The memory of the pasts unfulfilled desires traps energy,
 which manifests itself as a person. 
When its charge gets exhausted, 
the person dies.

 Unfulfilled desires are carried over into the birth. 
Self-identification with body creates ever-fresh desires 
and there is no end to them unless 
this mechanism of bondage is clearly seen.

 It is clarity that is liberating,
 for you cannot abandon desire unless 
its causes and effects are clearly seen.

I do not say that the same person is reborn.
 It dies, 
and dies for good. 

But its memories remain 
and their desires and fears. 
They supply the energy for a new person.

~  Nisargadatta Maharaj

the winged energy of delight


As once the winged energy of delight
carried you over childhood's dark abysses,
now beyond your own life build the great
arch of unimagined bridges.
Wonders happen if we can succeed
in passing through the harshest danger;
but only in a bright and purely granted
achievement can we realize the wonder.
To work with Things in the indescribable
relationship is not too hard for us;
the pattern grows more intricate and subtle,
and being swept along is not enough.
Take your practiced powers and stretch them out
until they span the chasm between two
contradictions... For the god
wants to know himself in you.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke
from uncollected poems

each is fulfilled in the other

The universe must be experienced as the Great Self. 

Each is fulfilled in the other:
 the Great Self is fulfilled in the individual self,
 the individual self is fulfilled in the Great Self.
 Alienation is overcome as soon as we experience this surge of energy 
from the source that has brought the universe through the centuries.

New fields of energy become available to support the human venture.
 These new energies find expression and support in celebration. 
For in the end the universe can only be explained in terms of celebration.

It is all an exuberant expression of existence itself.

~ Thomas Berry

Thursday, July 8, 2021

of crime and punishment


Then one of the judges of the city stood forth and said,
 Speak to us of Crime and Punishment. 
 And he answered, saying: It is when your spirit goes wandering upon the wind, 
 That you, alone and unguarded, commit a wrong unto others and therefore unto yourself.
 And for that wrong committed must you knock and wait a while 
unheeded at the gate of the blessed. Like the ocean is your god-self;
 It remains for ever undefiled. And like the ether it lifts but the winged.
 Even like the sun is your god-self; It knows not the ways of the mole
 nor seeks it the holes of the serpent. But your god-self dwells not alone in your being. 
 Much in you is still man, and much in you is not yet man, 
But a shapeless pigmy that walks asleep in the mist searching for its own awakening.
 And of the man in you would I now speak. For it is he and not your god-self 
nor the pygmy in the mist, that knows crime and the punishment of crime.

Oftentimes have I heard you speak
of one who commits a wrong as though
he were not one of you…
but a stranger unto you
and an intruder upon your world…

But I say that even as the holy and the righteous
cannot rise beyond the highest
which is in each one of you,
So the wicked and the weak
cannot fall lower than the lowest
which is in you also…

And as a single leaf turns not yellow
but with the silent knowledge of the whole tree,
So the wrong-doer cannot do wrong
without the hidden will of you all…

Like a procession you walk together towards your god-self. 
 You are the way and the wayfarers. And when one of you falls down
 he falls for those behind him, a caution against the stumbling stone.
 Ay, and he falls for those ahead of him, who though faster and surer of foot, 
yet removed not the stumbling stone. And this also, though the word
lie heavy upon your hearts: The murdered is not unaccountable for his own murder,
 And the robbed is not blameless in being robbed. The righteous is not innocent 
of the deeds of the wicked, And the white-handed is not clean in the doings of the felon.
 Yea, the guilty is oftentimes the victim of the injured,
 And still more often the condemned is the burden bearer for the guiltless and unblamed. 
 You cannot separate the just from the unjust and the good from the wicked;
 For they stand together before the face of the sun even as the black thread
 and the white are woven together. And when the black thread breaks
 the weaver shall look into the whole cloth, and he shall examine the loom also. 
 If any of you would bring to judgement the unfaithful wife, 
Let him also weigh the heart of her husband in scales, and measure his soul
 with measurements. And let him who would lash the offender look 
unto the spirit of the offended. And if any of you would punish 
in the name of righteousness and lay the ax unto the evil tree,
 let him see to its roots; And verily he will find the roots of the good 
and the bad, the fruitful and the fruitless, all entwined together in the silent heart
 of the earth.
 And you judges who would be just, What judgement pronounce you upon him
 who though honest in the flesh yet is the thief in spirit? What penalty
 lay you upon him who slays in the flesh yet is himself slain in the spirit? 
 And how prosecute you him who in action is a deceiver and an oppressor, 
Yet who also is aggrieved and outraged? And how shall you punish 
those whose remorse is already greater than their misdeeds? 
 Is not remorse the justice which is administered by that very law
 which you would fain serve? Yet you cannot lay remorse upon the innocent 
nor lift it from the heart of the guilty. Unbidden shall it call in the night, 
that men may wake and gaze upon themselves. And you who would understand justice,
 how shall you unless you look upon all deeds in the fullness of light? 
Only then shall you know that the erect and the fallen
 are but one man standing in twilight between the night of his pigmy-self 
and the day of his god-self, And that the corner-stone of the temple
 is not higher than the lowest stone in its foundation. 

~ Kahlil Gibran
 from The Prophet
with thanks to love is a place

next time


 Next time what I'd do is look at
the earth before saying anything. I'd stop
just before going into a house
and be an emperor for a minute
and listen better to the wind
or to the air being still.

When anyone talked to me, whether
blame or praise or just passing time,
I'd watch the face, how the mouth
had to work, and see any strain, any
sign of what lifted the voice.

And for all, I'd know more - the earth
bracing itself and soaring, the air
finding every leaf and feather over
forest and water, and for every person
the body glowing inside the clothes
like a light.

~ William Stafford
with thanks to being silently drawn

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Dalai Lama - 86th Birthday Message



compassion - radical kinship


"It is not enough to believe that compassion is important and to think about how nice it is!"

Self-centeredness inhibits our love for others,
 and we are all afflicted by it to one degree or another.
 For true happiness to come about, we need a calm mind,
 and such peace of mind is brought about only by a compassionate attitude. 
How can we develop this attitude? 
 We need to make a concerted effort to develop it; 
we must use all the events of our daily life to transform our thoughts and behavior.

Many forms of compassionate feeling are mixed with desire and attachment.
 For instance, the love parents feel for their child is often strongly associated 
with their own emotional needs, so it is not fully compassionate. 
Usually when we are concerned about a close friend, we call this compassion, 
but it too is usually attachment. Even in marriage, the love between husband and wife—
particularly at the beginning, when each partner still may not know the other’s 
deeper character very well—depends more on attachment than genuine love.
 Marriages that last only a short time do so because they lack compassion; 
they are produced by emotional attachment based on projection and expectation,
 and as soon as the projections change, the attachment disappears. 
Our desire can be so strong that the person to whom we are attached appears flawless,
 when in fact he or she has many faults. In addition, attachment makes us exaggerate
 small, positive qualities. When this happens, it indicates that our love is motivated
 more by personal need than by genuine care for another.

Compassion without attachment is possible. 
Therefore, we need to clarify the distinctions between compassion and attachment. 
True compassion is not just an emotional response but a firm commitment founded on reason.
 Because of this firm foundation, a truly compassionate attitude toward others
 does not change even if they behave negatively.
 Genuine compassion is based not on our own projections and expectations, 
but rather on the needs of the other: irrespective of whether another person 
is a close friend or an enemy.
 This is genuine compassion. 
For a practitioner, the goal is to develop this genuine compassion, 
this genuine wish for the well-being of another, 
in fact for every living being throughout the universe. 

~ Dalai Lama
adapted from The Compassionate Life
 art of Father Gregory Boyle from
Saint Ignatius College Prep Library


Tuesday, July 6, 2021

the man who didn't know what was his

There was a man who didn't know what was his.
He thought as a boy that some demon forced him
To wear "his" clothes and live in "his" room
And sit on "his" chair and be the child of "his" parents.

Each time he sat down to dinner, it happened again.
His own birthday party belonged to someone else.
And - was it sweet potatoes that he liked? -
He should resist them.  Whose plate is this?

This man will be like a lean-to attached
To a house.  It doesn't have a foundation.
This man is helpful and hostile in each moment.
This man leans toward you and leans away.

He's charming, this man who doesn't know what is his.

~ Robert Bly
from Morning Poems
photo by Lisa Kristine

life's splendor

Life's splendor forever lies in wait 
about each one of us in all its fullness, 
but veiled from view, deep down,
 invisible, far off. It is there, though, 
not hostile, not reluctant, not deaf. 
If you summon it by the right word, 
by its right name, it will come.

  ~ Franz Kafka
from Diaries, 1910 1923

Friday, July 2, 2021

I was a tiny insect

I was a tiny insect. Now a mountain.
I was left behind. Now honoured at the head.
You healed my wounded hunger and anger,
and made me a poet who sings about joy.
~ Rumi

master of dance


When a kid with Down’s Syndrome lumbers along
in a coat of clumsy, squinting to find
a level parade, treading mostly alone;
what do you make of this jack-of-no-trade?
Revulsion, compassion, empathy, fear,
anger or sadness because strangeness is near
- what do you reckon, or, what do you feel?
‘owbout respect for a teacher over there,
a mirror of openness, simpleness, now
enjoying a journey with others and me
as a master of dancing, exuberance,
and with a strange little question ‘What’s the real deal?’
like, your last day on earth, well, what will you choose
- one million dollars, a hug, celebration,
or smile?

~ John Lavan
more at real poems


the tongue says loneliness

The tongue says loneliness, anger, grief,
but does not feel them.

As Monday cannot feel Tuesday,
nor Thursday
reach back to Wednesday
as a mother reaches out for her found child.

As this life is not a gate, but the horse plunging through it.

Not a bell, 
but the sound of the bell in the bell-shape,
lashing full strength with the first blow from inside the iron.

~ Jane Hirshfield
from Come, Thief