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Mindfulness and Suffering

September 22, 2018

One of the most difficult things

for us to accept is that

there is no realm

where there’s only happiness

and there’s no suffering.

This doesn’t mean that we should despair.

Suffering can be transformed.

If we focus exclusively on pursuing happiness,

we may regard suffering

as something to be ignored or resisted.

We think of it as something

that gets in the way of happiness.

But the art of happiness

is also the art of knowing how to suffer well.

If we know how to use our suffering,

we can transform it and suffer much less.

Knowing how to suffer well

is essential to realizing true happiness.

With mindfulness,

you can recognize the presence

of the suffering in you

and in the world.

And it’s with that same energy

that you tenderly embrace the suffering.

By being aware

of your in-breath and out-breath

you generate the energy of mindfulness,

so you can continue to cradle the suffering.

With mindfulness

we are no longer afraid of pain.

We can even go further

and make good use of suffering

to generate the energy

of understanding and compassion

that heals us and we can help others

to heal and be happy as well.

~Thich Nhat Hanh

(1926 to pres., Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk,

poet, and founder of the Engaged Buddhist movement)



September 21, 2018

Solitude is not something

you must hope for in the future.

Rather, it is a deepening

of the present,

and unless you look for it

in the present

you will never find it.

~Thomas Merton

(1915-1968, Trappist Monk)

Stand in the Gap

September 20, 2018

I think what our times

require of us

is a profound understanding

of how we’re all called

to stand in the tragic gap

between what is

and what could and should be,

without falling out into

one side or the other of that gap…

both corrosive cynicism

and irrelevant idealism

take us out of the action,

as it were.

~Parker Palmer

(Senior associate of the American Association

of Higher Education,

senior advisor to the Fetzer Institute,

founder of the Center for Courage and Renewal)

God is Everywhere

September 19, 2018

Unable to perceive

the shape of you,

I find you all around me.

Your presence fills my eyes

with your love.

It humbles my heart,

for you are everywhere.

~Hakim Sanai

(1080-1131, Afghani Persian

Poet and Mystic)


September 18, 2018

by Mark Nepo

My own time on earth has led me to believe in two powerful instruments that turn experience into love: holding and listening. For every time I have held or been held, every time I have listened or been listened to, experience burns like wood in that eternal fire and I find myself in the presence of love. This has always been so. Consider these two old beliefs that carry the wisdom and challenge of holding and listening.

The first is the age-old notion that when holding a shell to your ear, you can hear the ocean. It always seems to work. The scrutiny of medicine has revealed that when you hold that shell to your ear, you actually hear your own pulsations, the ocean of your blood being played back to you. Yet this fact does not diminish this mystery. It only enhances it. For holding a shell to our ear teaches us how to hear the Whole through the part, and how to find the Universe within us. It teaches us that when we dare to hold another being, like a shell, to our ear, we hear both the mystery of all life and the ocean of our own blood.

Amazingly, each being has the story of the Universe encoded within them. Each soul is a shell shaped by the currents of the deep. Even physically, the inner ear — that delicate source of balance — is shaped like a conch. And so, whatever is held and listened to will show us where it lives in the world and in us.

This brings us to the second belief: the folklore that if a horse breaks a leg, it must be put down. I’ve discovered that this isn’t true. Oh it’s true that it happens. Breeders shoot horses with broken legs as if there’s nothing to be done. But now I know they do this for themselves, not wanting to care for a horse that cannot run.

In just this way, fearful and selfish people cut the cord to those who are broken, not wanting to sit with a friend who can’t find tomorrow, not wanting to be saddled with someone who will slow them down, not wanting to face what is broken in themselves. In this lies the challenge of compassion. For when we dare to hold those forced to the ground, dare to hold them close, the truth of holding and listening sings and we are carried into the wisdom of broken bones and how things heal.

These are quiet braveries we all need. The courage to wait and watch with all of who we are. The courage to admit that we are not alone. The courage to hold each other to the ear of our heart. And the courage to care for things that are broken.

The practice ground for these braveries is always the small things at hand. Somehow, through the practice of doing small things with great love, as Mother Teresa puts it, we learn how to be brave. In truth, the work of love is tending to small things completely. Such tending opens the mystery. By the large-heartedness of our smallest attention, we enter the ocean of love that carries us all.

Simply and profoundly, the work of love is to love. For in that act, the Universe comes alive. Such aliveness is the space that opens between us, as Martin Buber says, when two bow and touch in a true way.

Mark Nepo (1951 to pres., poet, philosopher, healing arts teacher. From “The Exquisite Risk: Daring to Live an Authentic Life”)

Know Nothing

September 18, 2018

Realize you know nothing

and you are nobody.

It is no easy thing to attain

this realization.

It does not come with teaching

and instruction,

nor can it be sewn on with a needle,

or tied with a thread.

This is a gift from God

and a question of whom

He bestows it on

and whom He causes

to experience it.

~Abu Sa’id

(967-1049, Mystic and Sufi poet)

Build a Swing

September 17, 2018

You carry all the ingredients
to turn your life into a nightmare-
Don’t mix them!
You have all the genius
to build a swing in your backyard
For God.
That sounds like a lot more fun.
Let’s start laughing, drawing blueprints,
gathering our talented friends.
I will help you
with my divine guitar and drum.
The Awakened One
will sing a thousand words
that you can take into your hands,
like golden saws, sliver hammers,
polished teakwood, strong silk rope.
You carry all the ingredients within
to turn your existence into joy,
Mix them, mix them!


(1315-1390, Sufi Mystic

Poet of Shiraz, Persia)