Saturday, February 28, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pause

Cynthia Burgess sent me the following this morning and I like it very much!

Learn to pause... or nothing worthwhile will catch up to you.

-- Doug King

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wednesday life form blogging

Ash Wednesday and impermanence

Whether it is your custom to observe this day or not, I think we can all agree that it is the one day within western culture and religion that the principle of impermanence is acknowledged and honored. "Remember that you are dust and to dust shall you return," are the words that are recited at the imposition of ashes. Here's something else about that principle:

Impermanence is the constant, basic universal truth of change. Impermanence is both a process of continual loss, in which things exist and then disappear, and it is also a process of continuous rebirth or creativity, in which things that do not exist suddenly appear. We can see this on a momentary level in meditation. For example, sounds, thoughts or sensations continually are disappearing and new ones arising. We can also see it very clearly in the ordinary circumstances of our lives. Where has our experience of breakfast gone by midmorning? Where is the conversation we had with a friend by the next afternoon? Sometimes we are more aware of new things arising, and sometimes we notice their passing away. But change is always obvious when we pay attention.

I find it a very powerful practice to pay attention moment-to-moment, to the experience of things changing. Rather than just getting lost in the content of what is happening, it is simultaneously possible to pay attention to the fact that experience keeps altering and flowing. This is not such a difficult thing to do, but it is difficult to remember to do it.

-- Joseph Goldstein

Yes, it is difficult to remember to do it. That's why a commitment to regular meditative practice is so important!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Oh, this is rich!

My friend, Larry, sent the following. It gave me a great laugh!!!

The road to truth is long, and lined the entire way with annoying bastards.

-- Alexander Jablokov

Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday meditative picture blogging

Photo by Hubert Stoffels
(From Wikimedia Commons)

Freedom from our prisons

This reminds me a little bit of Plato's allegory of the cave.

Do you see how you are in a prison created by the beliefs and traditions of your society and culture and by the ideas, prejudices, attachments and fears of your past experiences? Wall upon wall surrounds your prison cell so that it seems almost impossible that you will ever break out and make contact with the richness of life and love and freedom that lies beyond your prison fortress. And yet the task, far from being impossible, is actually easy and delightful. What can you do to break out?

First, realize that you are surrounded by prison walls, that your mind has gone to sleep. It does not even occur to most people to see this, so they live and die as prison inmates. Most people end up being conformists; they adapt to prison life. A few become reformers; they fight for better living conditions in the prison, better lighting, better ventilation. Hardly anyone becomes a rebel, a revolutionary who breaks down the prison walls. You can only be a revolutionary when you see the prison walls in the first place.

-- Anthony de Mello

As far as I'm concerned, the only way to see those prison walls - at least to see them consistently and to see them without freaking out over them - is through meditation.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The new member of the family

This is Bernice. I adopted her on Friday and the picture below was taken at the home of the family who rescued her.

She's part black lab and seems to have some pit bull in her too. Bernice is very sweet, super energetic and loves to play fetch more than any dog I've ever known! She also goes into ecstacies when given a squeaky toy. The resident cats are seriously annoyed but they'll get over it!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Saturday cat blogging!


This is to make up for my neglect of cat blogging yesterday!

The best way

Oh look! This is purely wonderful:

If I am going to die, the best way to prepare is to quiet my mind and open my heart. If I am going to live, the best way to prepare is to quiet my mind and open my heart.

-- Ram Dass

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The best path to empathy

Thich Nhat Hanh has made this same point many times:

Rest assured that, generally speaking, others are acting in exactly the same manner that you would under exactly the same circumstances. Hence, be kind, understanding, empathetic, compassionate, and loving.

-- Gary W. Fenchuk

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Connectedness

One of the fundamental principles of the meditative process is that of connectedness. It is actually an illusion that we are separate from each other and from the natural world and we will end up doing irreparable harm to ourselves if we believe that illusion. The following story illustrates:

There once was a farmer who grew award-winning corn. Each year he entered his corn in the state fair where it won a blue ribbon.

One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how he grew it. The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbors.

"How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?" the reporter asked.

"Why sir," said the farmer, "didn't you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn."

He is very much aware of the connectedness of life. His corn cannot improve unless his neighbor's corn also improves.

So it is with our lives. Those who choose to live in peace must help their neighbors to live in peace. Those who choose to live well must help others to live well, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches. And those who choose to be happy must help others to find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all.

The lesson for each of us is this: if we are to grow good corn, we must help our neighbors grow good corn.

-- Author unknown

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day


This is a powerful observation about how love works and it strikes me as exactly right:

To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.

- Mary Oliver

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday cat blogging!

Extending compassion to all beings

I just read a while ago that Albert Schweitzer, the renowned humanitarian, would take time to stoop and move a worm from the hot pavement to a place on the cool earth. That demonstrates both extraordinary mindfulness and compassion. He also said the following:
A man is really ethical only when he obeys the constraint laid on him to aid all life which he is able to help … He does not ask how far this or that life deserves sympathy … nor how far it is capable of feeling.
It has been said that we can’t stop all suffering, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t stop any. I so agree.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The meditative principle of impermanence

~~~


As today is the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, it seems fitting to offer you this remark of his:
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.' How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wednesday life form blogging

A simple saying

but a profound one:

Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.

-- Seneca

And, of course, I would say that the being doesn't have to be human. Wherever there is a sentient being, there is an opportunity for kindness.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Now

I think I told you all some time before that I had the extraordinary privilege of hearing David Steindl-Rast speak back in the early 70s. He's been an inspiration to me for a long time. Do click through on his name and read the brief but very interesting biography published there:

At any moment the fully present mind can shatter time and burst into Now.

-- David Steindl-Rast from A Listening Heart

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Just watch it, okay?



And let it help you be happy today!

Many thanks to Carolyn Loomis.

(Oh, and I hope this will make up for the absence of cats yesterday!)

Friday, February 06, 2009

The power of encouragement

Give people (and yourself) a boost instead of a put down. Do this regularly. See what happens:

I used to respond to most things people said with "Baloney!" and I had very few friends. Then I changed and responded "Marvelous!" - and now I'm invited everywhere!

-- Mike Moore (American Cartoonist)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Some really, really good questions

If you're going through something difficult or if you've just lost your enthusiasm about life, I it is truly worth reflecting on the following:

When we go to a medicine person or healer because we are feeling disheartened, dispirited or depressed, he or she might ask questions like:
'When did you stop singing?'
'When did you stop dancing?'
'When did you stop being enchanted by stories?'

-- Angeles Arrien

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Monday, February 02, 2009

Monday meditative picture blogging

Touching other people's lives

I've long contended that inner work cannot possibly be selfish (if it's authentic, that is) because the work we do on ourselves inevitably affects other people. Here's another way of expressing that:

Believing in yourself is not just for you; it's for every person who has touched your life in a significant way and for every person your life will touch the same way five minutes from now, or five centuries from now.

-- Jaye Miller