Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Inner work

Here it is - expressed with the utmost eloquence and simplicity:

I would like my life to be a statement of love and compassion - and where it isn't, that's where my work lies.

-- Ram Dass

Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday meditative picture blogging

Somthing about standards and values

This articulates so beautifully one of the reasons I recommend that people let go of making "shoulds" and "oughts" the basis of their lives:

Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am. I must listen for the truths and values at the heart of my own identity, not the standards by which I must live - but the standards by which I cannot help but live if I am living my own life.

-- Herbert Alphonso, SJ

Sunday, April 26, 2009

What are you waiting for?

How many of us have said over the years, "I'll meditate when I have time," or "I'll start going to class again when I get more organized," or something like that?

I like this:

Do not wait! The time will never be 'just right'. Start where you stand and work with whatever tools you may have at your command and better tools will be found as you go along.

~ Napoleon Hill

The writer may not have been talking about meditation as such but what he says in this instance certainly applies.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Wisdom

It's a well known story that I've read many times before but I'm not sure I've posted here. So, in case you haven't seen this, take a look:

A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the
stone to the wise woman.

"I've been thinking," he said, "I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone."

-- Author unknown

Friday, April 24, 2009

This says it all, really!

We can reflect on this one for a long, long time to our great benefit:

Non-attachment brings deep truth,
And a truthful nature brings immortality.
Empty your heart.
Sit quietly on a mat.
In meditation we become one with All.

-- Loy Ching-yuen

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Meditation and The Bard


It's Shakespeare's birthday today, folks, and so I thought I'd share a few things he wrote that speak to the meditative process:

*Go to your bosom: Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know.

*There is nothing either good nor bad, but thinking makes it so.

*And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.

*Expectation is the root of all heartache.

*I shall the effect of this good lesson keeps as watchman to my heart.

*What is past is prologue.

*We are such stuff As dreams are made on; and our little life Is rounded with a sleep.

*But no perfection is so absolute, That some impurity doth not pollute.

*And many strokes, though with a little axe, Hew down and fell the hardest-timbered oak.

Have fun with these. And it can be illuminating to look for others that are consistent with meditative principles.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!


Please, please, please, let's not forget this:

"The earth we abuse and the living things we kill will, in the end, take their revenge; for in exploiting their presence we are diminishing our future."

-- Marya Mannes



Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Kissing the earth


Well, I've read a lot of Thich Nhat Hanh over the years but he is very prolific and so I'm sure I've not nearly read everything he has written. Here is a wonderful approach to walking meditation that is new to me:

When we walk like (we are running), we print anxiety and sorrow on the earth. We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the earth... Be aware of the contact between your feet and the earth. Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.

-- Thich Nhat Hanh

I do so love the idea of kissing the earth with our feet.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday meditative picture blogging

"Contemplation"
Artist: Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant

How do we treat the vulnerable?

Remember "Dear Abby"? Here's something I just found that we would all do well to remember:

The best index to a person's character is how he treats people who can't do him any good, and how he treats people who can't fight back.

-- Abigail Van Buren

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Saturday cat blogging!

Staying in the moment

Here's another approach to being utterly in the now:

I will greet this day with love in my heart. And how will I do this? Henceforth will I look on all things with love and be born again. I will love the sun for it warms my bones; yet I will love the rain for it cleanses my spirit. I will love the light for it shows me the way; yet I will love the darkness for it shows me the stars. I will welcome happiness as it enlarges my heart; yet I will endure sadness for it opens my soul. I will acknowledge rewards for they are my due; yet I will welcome obstacles for they are my challenge.

-- Og Mandino

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wednesday life form blogging

Impermanence

This can be experienced as distressing or consoling. Your choice:

What is life? It is a flash of a firefly in the night. It is a breath of a buffalo in the winter time. It is as the little shadow that runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.

~ Crowfoot, Blackfoot Tribal Chief

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

X marks the spot

Here's a lovely articulation of what it means to be in the present moment:

No one longs for what he or she already has, and yet the accumulated insight of those wise about the spiritual life suggest that the reason so many of us cannot see the red X that marks the spot is because we are standing on it. The treasure we seek requires no lengthy expedition, no expensive equipment, no superior aptitude or special company. All we lack is the willingness to imagine that we already have everything we need. The only thing missing is our consent to be where we are.
...
My life depends on engaging the most ordinary physical activities with the most exquisite attention I can give them.

~ Barbara Brown Taylor

Sounds like what she's saying is, "Be here now."

Monday, April 13, 2009

Monday meditative picture blogging

Artist: Lesser Ury
Image from Wikimedia Commons

Empathy

Very powerful, folks. Especially given the age of the writer:

EMPATHY

He prayed — it wasn't my religion.
He ate — it wasn't what I ate.
He spoke — it wasn't my language.
He dressed — it wasn't what I wore.
He took my hand — it wasn't the color of mine.
But when he laughed — it was how I laughed,
and when he cried — it was how I cried.

by 16-year-old Amy Maddox of Bargersville, Indiana

Sunday, April 12, 2009

"The darkness shall be the light"


I said to my soul, be still,
and wait without hope.
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing;
and wait without love,
for love would be love of the wrong thing;
there is yet faith.
But the faith, and the hope, and the love
are all in the waiting.
And so the darkness shall be the light,
and the stillness, the dancing.

— T. S. Eliot

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Something we'd all do well to remember

Read more about it right here.

Play with this one

It's a bumper sticker. And it really tickled my funny bone!

"Circular Definition: see Definition, Circular."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Valuing sacrifice


The quotation below may surprise you for a meditation blog but I'll tell you why I chose it. Today, of course, is Good Friday - a day of somber holiness for Christians. So it seemed an appropriate day to look at the function and value of sacrifice - for that is a universal value and concept to people of all faiths as well as to those who claim no particular religion. And, as we observe over and over again, sacrifice (especially for one's young) is also a part of the life of many animals - sometimes truly astonishingly so.

To me, the statement below makes it luminously clear why valuing sacrifice in others and being willing to make sacrifices ourselves need to be not only cultivated but treasured in our interior work:

There are plenty of teams in every sport that have great players and never win titles. Most of the time, those players aren't willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the team. The funny thing is, in the end, their unwillingness to sacrifice only makes individual goals more difficult to achieve. One thing I believe to the fullest is that if you think and achieve as a team, the individual accolades will take care of themselves. Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.

-- Michael Jordan

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Expectations

Now I admit that this is very hard to put into practice:

It is important to expect nothing,
To take every experience,
Including the negative ones,
As merely steps on the path,
And to proceed.

-- Ram Dass

It was in 1990 and I was preparing to make a trip to the city that had been my home for many years (having only moved away the previous year). I was very, very excited about the upcoming vacation and found myself fantasizing about how wonderful it would be. I visualized visits with all the people I cared about and just what those occasions would be like. Suddenly it hit me how I was idealizing my expectations and truly setting myself up for disappointment. And so I decided to make my only objective that of getting there and getting back. That, I told myself, would make it a successful trip and anything else would be icing on the cake.

As it happened, I had a truly wonderful time. But that wonderful time was different from my earlier fantasy. If I had not let go of the expectations I had been cultivating I don't think I would have experienced my visit "home" as wonderful at all.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Letting go of black and white thinking

Two of my favorite Zen slogans are these:
Not this; not that.

Not one; not two.
And then today I find the following:
Neurosis is the inability to tolerate ambiguity.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The intrinsic goodness of difference

"Comparisons are odious" goes the old saying.

So many people who come to talk to me suffer because they don't have someone else's gifts or are not able to live up to someone else's expectations. He's something very encouraging that speaks to this:

If the Great Spirit had desired me to be a white man he would have made me so in the first place. He put in your heart certain wishes and plans, and in my heart he put other different desires. Each man is good in his sight. It is not necessary for eagles to be crows.

-- Chief Sitting Bull

I truly believe that if you're doing what you are called to do that your heart will dance. I don't mean that there will never be difficulties but that fundamentally, at the very core of your being, there is a deep delight.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Wherever you go, there you are

I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the Stern Fact, the Sad Self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from.

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Where are you right now, anyway?

A couple of years ago, I got a Christmas present for myself -- a book by Kent Nerburn called Simple Truths. I truly think he is very wise and he writes just beautifully. Today I found the quotation below:

When you are here, you are here. When you are gone, you are gone. It isn't a problem to be gone, so long as you are really here when you're here.

-- Kent Nerburn

Remember that famous slogan, "Be Here Now"? That's what Nerburn is on about.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

An encouraging saying

This is both strengthening and consoling. And also very, very true:

Be humble for you are made of earth.
Be noble for you are made of stars.

- Serbian Proverb

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

An inspiring, empowering principle

Sojourners sent this quotation out today. What Chávez is saying here is so, so focused, so radiant with clarity, that it inspires me greatly. I think I will post it on all three blogs because it speaks to the theme and purpose of each one:

The first principle of nonviolent action is that of noncooperation with everything humiliating.

- César Chávez