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Pleasure

April 23, 2018

The odd thing about pleasure

is that instead of fully enjoying

what is here,

being able to be fully present with it,

we are busy looking for more.

We miss the true depth of pleasure

by being intoxicated

with the possibility of more.

~Roshi Nancy Mujo Baker

(Zen teacher in the White Plum Asanga,

member of the Zen Peacemakers)

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Friend

April 22, 2018

If you really want

to become skillful

in your thoughts,

words, and deeds,

you need a trustworthy friend

to point out

your blind spots.

~Thanissaro Bhikkhu

(1949 to pres., Abbot of Metta Forest Monastery)

Precious Life

April 21, 2018

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean-

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth

instead of up and down-

who is gazing around

with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms

and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open,

and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention,

how to fall down into the grass,

how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed,

how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

~Mary Oliver

(1935 to pres., American Poet)

 

THAT FRIEND WALKING BEHIND ME

April 20, 2018

THAT FRIEND WALKING BEHIND ME

~by Parker Palmer, (syndicated from Awakin.org, Apr 14, 2018)

Imagine that for many years a friend had been walking a block behind me, calling my name, trying to get my attention because he wanted to tell me some hard but healing truths about myself. But I — afraid of what I might hear, or arrogantly certain I had nothing to learn — ignored his calls and kept on walking.

So my friend came closer and called my name louder, but I walked on, refusing to turn around. Closer still he came, now shouting my name. Frustrated by my lack of response, he began to throw stones and hit me with sticks, still wanting nothing more than to get my attention. But despite the pain I felt, I kept walking away.

Since calls and shouts, sticks and stones, had failed to get my attention, there was only one thing left for my friend to do: drop the bomb called depression on me. He did so not with intent to kill, but in a last-ditch effort to get me to turn toward him and ask a simple question: “What do you want?” When I finally made that turn — and began taking in and acting on the self-knowledge he’d been waiting to offer me — I took first steps on the path to wellbeing.

Thomas Merton’s name for that friend is “true self.” This is not the ego self that wants to inflate us. It’s not the intellectual self that wants to hover above life’s mess with logical but ungrounded ideas. It’s not the ethical self that wants to live by someone else’s “oughts.” It’s not the spiritual self that wants to “slip the surly bonds of Earth” and fly nonstop to heaven.

True self is the self with which we arrived on earth, the self that simply wants us to be who we were born to be. True self tells us who we are, where we are planted in the ecosystem of life, what “right action” looks like for us, and how we can grow more fully into our own potentials. As an old Hasidic tale reminds us, our mission is to live into the shape of true self, not the shape of someone else’s life: “Before he died, Rabbi Zusya said: ‘In the world to come they will not ask me, ‘Why were you not Moses?’ They will ask me, ‘Why were you not Zusya?’”

Memo to myself: Stay on the ground, turn around, ask and listen! True self is true friend — it’s a friendship we ignore at our peril. And pass the word: friends don’t let friends live at altitude!

 

(Parker Palmer is founder and Senior Partner of the Center for Courage & Renewal)

 

Freedom

April 20, 2018

Between stimulus and response

there is a space.

In that space

is our power to choose

our response.

In our response

lies our growth

and our freedom.

~Viktor Frankl

(1905-1997, Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist)

Admiration of Stones

April 19, 2018

So hills and valleys

into singing break,
And though poor stones

have neither speech nor tongue,
While active winds and streams

both run and speak,
Yet stones are deep

in admiration.

 

~Henry Vaughn

(1621-1695, Welsh Physician, Theologian, Poet)

Meaning

April 18, 2018

Photo: Cheryl Himmelstein

We continue to evolve and transform

who we are in relationship

to where we are.

We do not live in isolation

from the physical world around us.

Nature beckons our response.

It is in the doing,

the being, the becoming

that meaning is made.

What becomes sacred is the act itself —

not what remains.

Something inexplicable

is set into motion.

Our fate, like the fate of all species,

is determined by chance,

by circumstance, and by grace.

~Terry Tempest Williams

(1955 to pres., American conservationist, activist, author)