Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween cat blogging!

Here is your black cat for the evening. It's old Leroy, of course!

Happy Halloween!

And you KNOW at this point I'm going to say that meditation will help. (And it will!)

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Two of the most basic principle of the meditative tradition are compassion and lovingkindness. Both prompt us to offer encouragement whenever we can. I would also add that the meditative experience helps people with self-encouragement because it gives us confidence that diligence in training the mind will really make a difference in our lives:

One of the most beautiful gifts in the world is the gift of encouragement. When someone encourages you, that person helps you over a threshold you might otherwise never have crossed on your own.

- John O'Donohue

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wednesday life form blogging

Young Llama

How to "decompress time"

I may have blogged this before but it bears repeating:

Try pausing right before and right after undertaking a new action, even something simple like putting a key in a lock to open a door. Such pauses take a brief moment, yet they have the effect of decompressing time and centering you.

-- Br. David Steindl-Rast

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Something about anger


The single clenched fist lifted and ready,
Or the open hand held out and waiting.
For we meet by one or the other.

-- Carl Sandburg

I believe it was Carl Sandburg one time who said that the ugliest word in the English language is "exclusive." Something to think about.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday meditative picture blogging

Photo by Paul Rogers

Transform the mind and be happy

What is the real problem and what is not the real problem?
When things go wrong in our life and we encounter difficult situations we tend to regard the situation itself as the problem, but in reality whatever problems we experience come from the mind. If we were to respond to difficulties with a positive or peaceful mind they would not be problems for us; indeed we may even come to regard them as challenges or opportunities for growth and development. Problems arise only if we respond to situations with a negative state of mind. Therefore, if we want to transform our life and be free from problems we must learn to transform our mind.
I found the above right here.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Something about impermanence

This is definitely something to ponder:

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.

-- Robert Frost

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Learning to appreciate routine

Our culture unfortunately encourages us to become addicted to entertainment. As a result we often experience repetitive practice as boring. Here's another way of looking at it:

Repetition is the soul of spiritual practice. In any tradition I know of, there are daily practices... and a sense of faithfulness to a daily routine. This takes some gentle self-discipline, encouraged by some support from others within whatever spiritual community you can find to belong to. Doing the same thing over and over again may seem dull but the more you immerse yourself in spirtual practice, diving into it day after day like jumping into the bracing ocean with its sunlit wavetips, the more wonderful it becomes.

--Norman Fischer

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"But I don't have time to meditate!"

Yep. This one is true:

Some people think that meditation takes time away from physical accomplishment. Taken to extremes, of course, that's true. Most people, however, find that meditation creates more time than it takes.

-- Peter McWilliams

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The importance of self-respect

Here's why it's really not skillful to scold ourselves for our imperfections:

The capacity for getting along with our neighbor depends to a large extent on the capacity for getting along with ourselves. The self-respecting individual will try to be as tolerant of his neighbor's shortcomings as he is of his own.
The remarkable thing is that we really love our neighbor as ourselves: we do unto others as we do unto ourselves. We hate others when we hate ourselves. We are tolerant toward others when we tolerate ourselves. We forgive others when we forgive ourselves.

-- Eric Hoffer

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Your mission

Well, this certainly clarifies things!

"Here is the test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished: if you're alive, it isn't."

-- Richard Bach

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Something about reality

I know we have all heard/read this before. It's a good idea to be reminded on a regular basis, however:

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places."

-- Ernest Hemingway

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday cat blogging!

Well now, here's an interesting outlook

This is about seeing the need for patience as a treasure. That certainly turns things around, doesn't it?

Now, there are many, many people in the world, but relatively few with whom we interact, and even fewer who cause us problems. So, when you come across such a chance for practicing patience and tolerance, you should treat it with gratitude. It is rare. Just as having unexpectedly found a treasure in your own house, you should be happy and grateful to your enemy for providing that precious opportunity.

-The Dalai Lama

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I found this today. I think it's very, very important:

Life is a succession of moments. To live each one is to succeed.

-- Corita Kent

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesday life form blogging


Just think this one through, okay?

Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

--Susan Ertz

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Married to amazement

It's been a while since I've brought you a Mary Oliver poem and I don't think I've blogged this one before. Oliver understands contemplation like no other:

When Death Comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps his purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering;
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

Monday, October 13, 2008

One moral duty

Many of you know how much I value the writings of Etty Hillesum. Here's something I found today over on the Gratefulness website:

Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it towards others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world.

-- Etty Hillesum

Monday meditative picture blogging

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A question for all of us

Just ponder this for a while, okay?

The Pearl of Great Price

He asked me what I was looking for.

"Frankly," I said, "I'm looking for the Pearl of Great Price."

He slipped his hand into his pocket, drew it out, AND GAVE IT TO ME. It was just like that! I was dumbfounded. Then I began to protest: "You don't want to give it to me! Don't you want to keep it for yourself? But. . ."

When I kept this up, he said finally, "Look, is it better to have the Pearl of Great Price, or to give it away?"

Well, now I have it. I don't tell anyone. From some there would just be disbelief and ridicule.

"You have the Pearl of Great Price? Hah!" Others would be jealous, or someone might steal it.

Yes, I do have it. But there's that question - "Is it better to have it, or to give it away?" How long will that question rob me of my joy?

-- Theophane Boyd

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sacred responsibility

Here's why it's really not all that helpful to cultivate anger toward those with whom we disagree:

If everything is connected to everything else, then everyone is ultimately responsible for everything. We can blame nothing on anyone else. The more we comprehend our mutual interdependence, the more we fathom the implications of our most trivial acts. We find ourselves within a luminous organism of sacred responsibility.

Lawrence Kushner in Invisible Lines of Connection

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday cat blogging!

Inner work really is worth it.

But it is work. It requires effort because this doesn't just happen automatically:

The greatest discovery of our generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind. As you think, so shall you be.

--William James

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The principle of non-grasping

I see a lot of disappointment about life in many of the people who come to talk to me. It's sad because our culture has set them up to believe that they can only be happy if they succeed according to some goal they have set for themselves in the past. In meditative language, that's called an attachment to outcome. But life doesn't move along in sequence according to a previously charted plan. It unfolds on its own terms:

The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.

-- Robert Louis Stevenson

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Wednesday life form blogging

Unity with the universe

Frank Ford sent me this marvelous quotation:

The man who sat on the ground in his tipi meditating on life and its meaning, accepting the kinship of all creatures and acknowledging unity with the universe of things was infusing into his being the true essence of civilization.

--Luther Standing Bear, Oglala Sioux

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Reliable and unreliable happiness

It has been wisely said that "happiness is an inside job". Everyone who meditates knows that to be true and non-meditators often intuitively know it as well. But here's the thing: we also experience happiness (or at least something that feels like happiness) from outside conditions too. That's what makes us crave what we want and prefer. So how to put these two experiences together? Meditation teacher Kathleen MacDonald says this:
We do experience happiness with things outside ourselves, but it doesn't truly satisfy us or free us from our problems. It is a poor-quality happiness, unreliable and short-lived. This does not mean that we should give up our friends or possessions in order to be happy. Rather, what we need to give up are our misconceptions about them and our unrealistic expectations of what they can do for us.
I really like the point that a happiness based on exterior conditions is unreliable. That truth is a big contributor to my motivation to keep meditating. I want an approach I can count on!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Monday meditative picture blogging


If we can always keep impermanence in mind, we will vastly improve our day to day ability to perceive reality accurately:

It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: "And this, too, shall pass away."

-- Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The basic stuff

Here are the basics. If we all do these things we will certainly alleviate a lot of our suffering and make it more possible to be happy:

Live simply and take life more easily. Happiness lies in giving yourself time to think and to introspect. Be alone once in a while, and remain more in silence.

- Yogananda

Saturday, October 04, 2008


I got a laugh out of this one. It's also very, very true:

Expecting the world to treat you fairly
because you are a good person
is a little like expecting the bull not to attack you
because you are a vegetarian.

-- Dennis Wholey

You might also like to take a look at some information on the so-called "just world theory".

Friday, October 03, 2008

Friday cat blogging!

Sometimes a little humor helps!

You know, there just might be something to this:

It's so simple to be wise. Just think of something stupid to say and say the opposite.

-- Sam Levenson

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Subtraction not addition

I found this on Spirituality and Practice:

The spiritual path, as Meister Eckhart observed, has more to do with subtraction than with addition. It is not so much a matter of adding all the active virtues to one's practice of living as of relinquishing everything that can possibly be abandoned. How much can you leave behind?

Belden C. Lane in The Solace of Fierce Landscapes

To Practice This Thought: Survey the activities you do most days. Abandon one that is selfish and energy depleting.

It is essential that we not view our spiritual practice as a commodity or an achievement. It's must be about letting go to work. Truly. Truly.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Wednesday life form blogging

The ethical obligation to wake up

I want to share one more paragraph from the Pema Chödrön article I quoted yesterday:

Times are difficult globally; awakening is no longer a luxury or an ideal. It's becoming critical. We don't need to add more depression, more discouragement, or more anger to what's already here. It's becoming essential that we learn how to relate sanely with difficult times. The earth seems to be beseeching us to connect with joy and discover our innermost essence. This is the best way that we can benefit others.
That's what meditation is all about - waking up to what is real. Let us all make a commitment to use whatever comes our way as material for the path of awakening. Times truly are indeed difficult. We all need to do what we can and that means doing our spiritual work as a foundation for whatever else we are able to do.