Weekly Quotes 2011

1-3-11 Weekly Quotes: John O’Donohue

[A tribute to the beloved Irish poet and philosopher John O’Donohue (January 1, 1956 – January 3, 2008).  His poetry and reflections on New Beginnings from To Bless the Space Betagotween Us:]

To live a truly creative life, we always need to cast a critical look at where we presently are, attempting always to discern where we have become stagnant and where new beginning might be ripening.  Risk might be our greatest ally. There can be no growth if we do not remain open and vulnerable to what is new and different.

For a New Beginning

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

Beginnings often frighten us because they seem like lonely voyages in to the unknown.  Yet, in truth, no beginning is empty or isolated.  We seem to think that beginning is setting out from a lonely point along some line of direction into the unknown.  This is not the case.  Shelter and energy come alive when a beginning is embraced.  Goethe says that once the commitment is made, destiny conspires with us to support and realize it.  We are never as alone in our beginnings as it might seem at the time.  A beginning is ultimately an invitation to open toward the gifts and growth that are stored up for us.  To refuse to begin can be an act of great self-neglect.

For Celebration.

Now is the time to free the heart,
Let all intentions and worries stop,
Free the joy inside the self,
Awaken to the wonder of your life.
Open your eyes and see the friends
Whose hearts recognize your face as kin,
Those whose kindness watchful and near,
Encourages you to live everything here.
See the gifts the years have given,
Things you effort could never earn,
The health to enjoy who you want to be
And the mind to mirror mystery.
A good beginning is half the work.

– Irish proverb

For Longing

Blessed be the longing that brought you here
And quickens your soul with wonder.
May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire
That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.
May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease
To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.
May the forms of your belonging, in love, creativity, and friendship
Be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.
May the one you long for long for you.
May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.
May a secret Providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.
May your mind inhabit your life with the sureness with which your body inhabits the world.
May your heart never be haunted by ghost-structures of old damage.
May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.
May you know the urgency with which God longs for you.

1-10-11 Weekly Quotes: Transitions

[An experiment in the presentation of these offerings as we navigate the transitions the new year is calling forth…]

The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year.
It is that we should have a new soul.
– G.K. Chesterton
Any transition serious enough to alter your definition of self will require not just small adjustments in your way of living and thinking but a full-on metamorphosis.
– Martha Beck
Want the change…

Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.
– Anais Nin
Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.
– John Wooden
What locks itself in sameness has congealed.
Is it safer to be gray and numb?
What turns hard becomes rigid
and is easily shattered.

Loyalty to a petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.
– Mark Twain
Men are born soft and supple;
dead, they are stiff and hard.
Plants are born tender and pliant;
dead, they are brittle and dry.

Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible
is a disciple of death.
Whoever is soft and yielding
is a disciple of life.

The hard and stiff will be broken.
The soft and supple will prevail.
– Tao Te Ching, translated by Stephen Mitchell
Pour yourself out like a fountain.
Flow into the knowledge that what you are seeking
finishes often at the start, and, with ending, begins.

Every happiness is the child of a separation
it did not think it could survive….
– Ranier Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus XII
translated by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows

The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.
– M. Scott Peck
If we are growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.
– John Maxwell
Learn the alchemy
true human beings know.
The moment you accept
what troubles you’ve been given,
the door will open.

Welcome difficulty as a familiar comrade.
Joke with torment brought by the Friend.
Sorrows are the rags of old clothes and jackets
That serve to cover, then are taken off.

That undressing
And the beautiful naked body underneath,
Is the sweetness that comes after grief.
The hurt you embrace
Becomes joy.
Call it to your arms where it can change.
– Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks.
A person needs at intervals to separate from family and companions and go to new places. One must go without familiars in order to be open to influences, to change.
– Katharine Butler Hathaway

You’ve got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was.
– Irish proverb
You may wonder: How can I leave it all behind if I am just coming back to it? How can I make a new beginning if I simply return to the old? The answer lies in the return. You will not come back to the same old thing. What you return to has changed because you have changed. Your perceptions will be altered. You will not incorporate into the same body, status, or world you left behind. [There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.- Nelson Mandela] The river has been flowing while you were gone. Now it does not look like the same river.
– Steven Foster
When you do things from your soul
You feel a river moving in you, a joy.

When actions come from another place
The feeling disappears.
– Rumi
May my life flow like a river, ever surprised by its own unfolding.
– John O’Donohue
To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.
– Henri Bergson
Change and growth take place when a person has risked himself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life.
– Herbert Otto
We know what we are, but know not what we may be.
– William Shakespeare
The most important thing to remember is this: To be ready at any moment to give up what you are for what you might become.
– W.E.B Dubois
So long as a person is capable of self-renewal, they are a living being.
– Henri-Frederic Amiel
Sometimes you hear a voice through
the door calling you, as fish out of
water hear the waves or a hunting
falcon hears the drum’s come back.

This turning toward what you deeply love
saves you…

Read the book of your life which has
been given you. A voice comes to
your soul saying,

Lift your foot;
cross over; move into the emptiness
of question and answer and question.
– Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with
death. Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead in winter
and later proves to be alive.
– Pablo Neruda, translated by Alstair Reid
Our consciousness rarely registers the beginning of a growth within us any more than without us; there have been many circulations of the sap before we detect the smallest sign of the bud.
– George Eliot
The universe is change; life is understanding.
– Marcus Aurelius
Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it. If change is the essence of existence one would have thought it only sensible to make it the premise of our philosophy.
– W. Somerset Maugham
Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.
– Anon.
Do one thing every day that scares you.
– Eleanor Roosevelt
Again and again
some people in the crowd
wake up.

They have no ground in the crowd,
and they emerge according to
much broader laws.

They carry strange customs with them
and demand room for bold gestures.

The future speaks ruthlessly
through them
– Ranier Maria Rilke
Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars…to change the world.
– Harriet Tubman

1-17-11 Weekly Quotes: In Remembrance

[as timely and as true today…the fierce call to conscience of Martin Luther King, Jr.]

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.

The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be.  The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.

A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan.

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live.  Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power.  We have guided missiles and misguided men.

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.  This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.

Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit.  You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.  I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be.  This is the interrelated structure of reality.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

1-24-11 Weekly Quotes [from E-Newsletter] Living Deeply

Suddenly, from behind the rim of the moon, in long, slow-motion moments of immense majesty, there emerges a sparkling blue and white jewel, a light, delicate sky-blue sphere laced with slowly swirling veils of white, rising gradually like a small pearl in a thick sea of black mystery. It takes more than a moment to fully realize this is Earth….home.
– Edgar Mitchell

The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
– Marcel Proust

Transformation really means a change in the way you see the world – and a shift in how you see yourself. It’s not simply a change in your point of view, but rather a whole different perception of what’s possible. It’s the capacity to expand your worldview so that you can appreciate different perspectives, so that you can hold multiple perspectives simultaneously. You’re not just moving around from one point of view to another; you’re really expanding your awareness to encompass more possibilities.
– Frances Vaughan

…and the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
– Anais Nin

Crisis, suffering, loss, the unexpected encounter with the unknown – all of this has the potential to initiate a shift in perspective. A way of seeing the familiar with new eyes, a way of seeing the self in a completely new way. The experience that I have in watching people with cancer is that the more overwhelmed someone is at the beginning, the more profound the transformation that they undergo. There’s a moment when the individual steps away from the former life and the former identity and is completely out of control and completely surrenders, and then is reborn with a larger, expanded identity.
– Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.

Every happiness is the child of a separation it did not think it could survive.
– Ranier Maria Rilke

In Impossible Darkness

Do you know how
the caterpillar
turns?

Do you remember
what happens
inside a cocoon?

You liquefy.

There in the thick black
of your self-spun womb
void as the moon before waxing,…

Conceiving
in impossible darkness
the sheer
inevitability
of wings.
– Kim Rosen

So long as you have not experienced this:
To die and so to grow
You are only a troubled guest
On the dark earth.
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The question is, what do you do with the epiphany? The teaching that I have received is that all great moments of insight, all great epiphanies are ephemeral, and fade very, very quickly. It’s like a wonderful moment of intense love. You are filled completely with affection for another human being and then get irritated by the way they burp after dinner. It’s still the same person, the relationship is there, so what has happened?

The technique of the spiritual life is to cultivate what we call the reshimu – the subtle imprint that is left after the great opening. There is an opening in which we see all, the doors of perception are cleansed, then it’s over. How does one retain the imprints of a moment of overwhelming love for another human being? What is there the next morning? Something is there. That is the essence of the work. The experiences themselves are almost meaningless. Or even dangerous – as when they become commodities, and the spiritual life becomes a quest for the next experience.
– Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man

The Guest House

This being human is a guest-house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness come
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you
out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
– Rumi

“We are all connected to everyone and everything in the universe. Therefore, everything one does as an individual affects the whole. All thoughts, words, images, prayers, blessings, and deeds are listened to by all that is.”
– Serge Kahili King

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.
– Albert Einstein

Even if I was certain the earth would end tomorrow, I would plant a tree today.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the 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.
– Mary Oliver

The Navajos have a wonderful term for a great realization or insight that is not sustained: they call it a floating cloud. It’s just there. It’s beautiful in its shape and we describe it and we talk about it – and then it dissipates because it hasn’t been mobilized or grounded or sustained. We’re generating lots of floating clouds. We need to ground our ideas so that they can change the world. Nothing changes unless it’s grounded and it’s manifested.
– Angeles Arrien

The world we are experiencing today is the result of our collective consciousness, and if we want a new world, each of us must start taking responsibility for helping create it.
– Rosemary Fillmore Rhea

People have a fundamental need for transformation. We are wired for growth and healing, and we’re wired for self-righting and resuming impeded growth. We have a need for the expansion and liberation of the self, the letting down of defensive barriers, and the dismantling of the false self. Transformance strives toward maximal vitality, authenticity, and genuine contact. In the process of radical change we become more ourselves than ever before, and recognize ourselves to be so.
– Diana Fosha

There is in the psyche a process that seeks its own goal no matter what the external factors may be….the almost irresistible compulsion and urge to become what one is.
– Carl Jung

There is a natural and inviolable tendency in things to bloom into whatever they truly are in the core of their being. All we have to do is align ourselves with what wants to happen naturally and put in the effort that is our part in helping it happen.
– David Richo

One of the most essential aspects of this path – and, interestingly, one that is very seldom mentioned in traditional teachings – is curiosity, just wondering what things are really like. Curiosity, coupled with the desire not to be fooled (even though it’s very comfortable to be fooled sometimes) but to try to get a better and better understanding of the way things actually are. The commitment to keeping curiosity alive takes a fair amount of work. For a lot of people the whole socialization process narrows curiosity down fast. That’s a real shame. I think one of the greatest kicks in life is to look at very, very young babies when their eyes are open and they’re looking like, “Whoa! What is this place?” There’s something sacred and inspiring about that.
– Charles Tart

The thing about mystical experiences is that they’re always temporary and transitory, yet they are also a gift and an inspiration. When you come back to your ordinary daily life, you realize that it’s possible to see the world differently. So how do you learn to shift your perception? It doesn’t work to try to hang on to those mystical experiences, and it doesn’t work to try to re-create them either. You need to accept what is given and bring your life into alignment with what you learned from the experience. Now you know it is possible to see the world in a different light. Once you know this you can’t pretend that it didn’t’ happen. Once you are awake, you can’t go back to sleep. If you try to, if you deny your experience or discount it, this generally creates difficulty and contributes to inner turmoil.
– Frances Vaughan

A transformation in consciousness effects a kind of double vision in people. They see more than one reality at the same time, which gives a depth to both their experience and to their response to their experience.
– Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.

Sometimes a breakdown can be the beginning of a kind of breakthrough, a way of living in advance through a trauma that prepares you for a future of radical transformation
– Cherrie Moraga

If we can recognize that change and uncertainty are basic principles, we can greet the future and the transformation we are undergoing with the understanding that we do not know enough to be pessimistic.
– Hazel Henderson

Uncertainty is actually ground zero for both curiosity and inquiry. And open-minded curiosity and the courage to inquire deeply are both qualities that, when cultivated, can provide fertile soil for positive change.
– Marilyn Schlitz, Cassandra Vieten, Tina Amorok

When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.
– Joseph Campbell

We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone…and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one’s life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something.
– Sandra Day O’Connor

We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.
– Herman Melville

Personal transformation can and does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world, for the world is us. The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one.
– Marianne Williamson

If humankind would accept and acknowledge this responsibility and become creatively engaged in the process of evolution, consciously as well as unconsciously, a new reality would emerge, and a new age could be born.
– Jonas Salk

1-31-11 Weekly Quotes: Memory and Forgetfulness

[Ah, the slowing-down brain in a speeding-up world. Several choice quotes, Billy Collins’ wonderful poem Forgetfulness (apparently the most frequently googled poem on the internet) and a link to a truly delightful You-Tube musical lament about our fading capacity. Enjoy.]

Every man’s memory is his private literature.
– Aldous Huxley
We do not remember days, we remember moments.
– Cesare Pavese
A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely unhappen.
– Edward de Bono
The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.
– Friedrich Nietzsche
Why is it that our memory is good enough to retain the least triviality that happens to us, and yet not good enough to recollect how often we have told it to the same person?
– Francois de La Rochefoucauld
Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth, but not its twin.
– Barbara Kingsolver
When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not.
– Mark Twain
Forgetfulness

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,
as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.
Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,
something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.
Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.
It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.
No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.
– Billy Collins

2-7-11 Weekly Quotes: Mistakes and Failures

Thanks to my friend Marilynne Chophel:
[Oh my, just a month into the new year and life is teaching its hard lessons. May these companions on the journey help make it do-able.]
Success is moving from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm.
– Winston Churchill
You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call “failure” is not the falling down, but the staying down.
– Mary Pickford
Knowledge rests not upon truth alone, but upon error also.
– Carl G. Jung
He who never made a mistake never made a discovery.
– Samuel Smiles
Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.
– Henry Ford
The first step to becoming a more peaceful person is to have the humility to admit that, in most cases, you’re creating your own emergencies.  Life will usually go on if things don’t go according to plan.  It’s helpful to keep reminding yourself and repeating the sentence, “Life isn’t an emergency.”
– Richard Carlson
Yes, risk-taking is inherently failure-prone. Otherwise, it would be called sure-thing -taking.
-Tim McMahon
Nearly every man who develops an idea works at it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then gets discouraged. That’s not the place to become discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”
– Thomas A. Edison
There are some defeats more triumphant than victories.
– Michael de Montaigne
When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.
– Alexander Graham Bell
Life was meant to be lived and curiosity must be kept alive.  One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.
– Eleanor Roosevelt
Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it.  But it’s not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.
– Barack Obama
When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.
– Harriet Beecher Stowe
A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent in doing nothing.
– George Bernard Shaw
Good people are good because they’ve come to wisdom through failure.
– William Saroyan
For Failure

…the light that comes after rain
is always fierce and clear,
and illuminates the face of everything
through the transparency of rain.

Despite the initial darkening,
this is the light that failure casts.
Beholden no more of the promise
of what dream and work would bring.
It shows where roots have withered
and where the source has gone dry.
The light of failure has no mercy
on the affections of the heart;
it emerges from beyond the personal,
a wiry, forthright light that likes to see crevices
open in the shell of a controlled life.

Though cruel now, it serves a deeper kindness,
wise to the larger call of growth.
It invites us to humility
and the painstaking work of acceptance

So that one day we may look back
in recognition and appreciation
at the disappointment we now endure.
– John O’Donohue
To Bless the Space Between Us

2-14-11 Weekly Quotes: Rilke on Love

[from the deeply soulful poet Ranier Maria Rilke, 1875-1926]

To love is good, too: love being difficult. For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. For this reason young people, who are beginners in everything, cannot yet know love: they have to learn it. With their whole being, with all their forces gathered close about their lonely, timid, upward-beating heart, they must learn to love.

Pathways

Understand, I’ll slip quietly
away from the noisy crowd
when I see the pale stars rising,
blooming, over the oaks.

I’ll pursue solitary pathways
through the pale twilit meadows,
with only this one dream:

You come too.

Love is at first not anything that means merging, giving over and uniting with another…Love is a high inducement to the individual to ripen, to become world, to become world for himself for another’s sake. It is a great exacting claim upon him, something that chooses him out and calls him to vast things….Love is the ultimate, is perhaps that for which human lives as yet scarcely suffice.

Love Song

How can I keep my soul in me, so that
it doesn’t touch your soul? How can I raise
it high enough, past you, to other things?
I would like to shelter it, among remote
lost objects, in some dark and silent place
that doesn’t resonate when your depths resound.
Yet everything that touches us, me and you,
takes us together like a violin’s bow,
which draws one voice out of two separate strings.
Upon what instrument are we two spanned?
And what musician holds us in his hand?
Oh sweetest song!

The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. …Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which makes it possible to see each other whole against the sky.

Again and Again

Again and again however we know the landscape of love
and the little churchyard there, with its sorrowing names,
and the frighteningly silent abyss into which the others
fall: again and again the two of us walk out together
under the ancient trees,
lie down again and again among the flowers,
face to face with the sky.

The demands which the difficult work of love makes upon our development are more than life-size, and as beginners we are not up to them. But if we nevertheless hold out and take this love upon us as a burden and apprenticeship, instead of losing ourselves in all the light and frivolous play, behind which people have hidden from the most earnest earnestness of their existence – then a little progress and alleviation will perhaps be perceptible to those who come long after us; that would be much.

Physical pleasure is a sensual experience no different from pure seeing or the pure sensation with which a fine fruit fills the tongue; it is a great unending experience, which is given us, a knowing of the world, the fullness and the glory of all knowing. The bad thing is that most people misuse and squander this experience and apply it as a stimulant at the tired spots of their lives and as distraction instead of a rallying toward exalted moments.

Only one that is on the lookout for everything, who excludes nothing, not even the most enigmatic, will live the relationship to another as something alive, will himself sound the depths of his own being, will speak to the whole potential of his existence.

You are not too old
and it is not too late
to dive into your increasing depths
where life calmly gives out its own secret.

Avoid providing material for the drama that is always stretched tight between parents and children; it uses up much of the children’s strength and wastes the love of the elders, which acts and warms even if it doesn’t comprehend. Don’t ask for advice from them and don’t expect any understanding. But believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.

…and other mysteries of life:

Do not assume that he who seeks to comfort you now lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good. His life may also have much sadness and difficulty, that remains far beyond yours. Were it otherwise, he would never have been able to find these words.

No great art has ever been made without the artist having known danger. Surely all art is the result of one’s having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, where no one can go further.

We have no reason to mistrust our world, for it is not against us. Has it terrors, they are our terrors; has it abysses, those abysses belong to us. Are dangers at hand, we must try to love them….Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love…..So you must not be frightened if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen; if a restiveness, like light and cloudshadows, passes over your hands and over all you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall.

Were it possible for us to see further than our knowledge reaches, perhaps we would endure our sadnesses with greater confidence than our joys. For they are moments when something new has entered into us, something unknown.

The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens.

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, as if they were locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live your questions now. Perhaps then, some day far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

Let everything happen to you,
beauty and terror,
just keep going,
no feeling is final.

Let life happen to you. Believe me: life is in the right, always
Be of good courage; all is before you, and time passed in the difficult is never lost.

No experience has been too unimportant, and the smallest event unfolds like a fate, and fate itself is like a wonderful, wide fabric in which every thread is guided by an infinitely tender hand and laid alongside another thread and is held and supported by a hundred others.

I feel it now: there’s a power in me to grasp and give shape to my world. I know that nothing has ever been real without my beholding it. All becoming has need of me.

I want to unfold.
I don’t want to stay folded anywhere,
because where I am folded,
there I am a lie.

A billion stars go spinning through the night,
blazing high above your head.
But in you is the presence that will be,
when all the stars are dead.

Everyone once, once only. Just once and no more. And we also once. Never again. But this having been once, although only once, to have been of the earth, seems irrevocable.

It is obvious that most people come to know only one corner of their room, one spot near the window, one narrow strip on which they keep walking back and forth. Whoever you are: some evening take a step out of your house, which you know so well…. Enormous space is near.

Sometimes a man stands up during supper
and walks outdoors, and keeps on walking,
because of a church that stands somewhere in the East.

And his children say blessings on him as if he were dead.

And another man, who remains inside his own house,
stays there, inside the dishes and in the glasses,
so that his children have to go far out into the world
toward that same church, which he forgot.

2-21-11 Weekly Quotes [from E-Newsletter] Intention

Whatever a person frequently thinks and reflects on, that will become the inclination of the mind.
– Buddha

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
– Jesus

Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report;… think on these things.
– motto, Northwestern University

…it is a serious thing

just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.
I beg of you,

do not walk by
without pausing
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.

It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.
– Mary Oliver, excerpt from Invitation

* * * * *

Until one is committed there is always hesitancy,
The chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness,
Concerning all acts of initiative and creation,
There is one elementary truth,
The ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:
The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help that would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole stream of events issues from the decision,
Raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen accidents and meetings
And material assistance which no man could have dreamed
Would come his way.
– W.H.Murray, deputy leader of a l951 expedition to climb Mt. Everest

When we pay attention to the intention to bring more happiness into our lives, we are more likely to notice the actions, opportunities, people and things that can bring that about for us. It’s sort of like recognizing which piece of a jigsaw puzzle will fit in the picture.
– James Baraz and Shoshana Alexander

Tend to the moment, and the hours, days, years, will tend to themselves.
– Mattieu Ricard

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
– W.H. Murray quoting Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Submit to a daily practice.
Your loyalty to that
is a ring on the door.

Keep knocking, and the joy inside
will eventually open a window
and look out to see who’s there.
– Rumi
The Gardener

It’s really hard not to go where my whims urge me to go
But I know what sort of person I’m longing to become.
If I want to help anybody in this world before I die,
If I want the suffering all around us to subside,
I have got to be more conscious of the things I do and don’t do.
Every little seed in time will flower.
Plant the ones that lead me down a path toward really helping.
I am the garden, but I’m also the gardener.

In this very moment I reap fruit from choices past;
Choices for the future are made now.
Certain habits, deeply rooted, flourish in the heart of me.
Repetition, like the seasons, comes naturally.
Some of it’s good; some of it’s not;
Right now this is all I’ve got,
But it doesn’t mean it’s all I’ll ever be.

Choosing which part of me to act from is easier
When I know what I want to become.
I am and garden, but I’m also the gardener.

This planting of seeds is more subtle than it first appears
Its’ not just about a dollar to the homeless man.
It’s about perceiving what’s happening in this very moment
And deliberately choosing to extend love.

It’s really hard not to go where my whims urge me to go
But I know what sort of person I’m longing to become.
If I want to help anybody in this world before I die,
If I want the suffering all around us to subside,
I have got to be more conscious of the things I do and don’t do.
Every little seed in time will flower.
Plant the ones that lead me down a path toward really helping.
I am the garden, but I’m also the gardener.
– Eve Decker, sung at the Awakening Joy course, January 2010

Be ye therefore whole, even as your Father in heaven is whole.’
– Bible

A small thing repeated each day adds up over time to produce big results. Just one thing could change your life.
– Rick Hanson

2-28-11 Weekly Quotes: Generosity

[inspired by the generosity rippling out far beyond me after last week’s newsletter on Intention and the stories to learn from about Team in Training]
We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

– Winston Churchill
In the act of giving lies the expression of my aliveness.
– Erich Fromm
Thousand of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.
– Buddha
The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.
– Nelson Henderson

Real generosity toward the future consists in giving all to what is present.
– Albert Camus

Money is like manure; it’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around encouraging young things to grow.
– Thornton Wilder

If you haven’t any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.
– Bob Hope

It is not how much we give, but how much love we put in the giving.
– Mother Teresa

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with catcher’s mitts on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.
– Maya Angelou

Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth,
“You owe me.”
Look what happens
With a love like that –
It lights the whole world.
– Hafiz

You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that your truly give.

There are those who give little of the much which they have – and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.

And there are those who have little and give it all. These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.

And is there aught you would withhold?
All you have shall someday be given;
Therefore give now, that the season of giving
May be yours and not your inheritors’.

In truth it is life that gives unto life
While you, who deem yourself a giver,
Are but a witness.

You often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.”
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights
Is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life
Deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.
– Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, excerpted on Giving

3-7-11 Weekly Quotes: Kindness

What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?
– Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.
– Theodore Isaac Rubin

Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.
– Samuel Johnson

Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true.
– Robert Brault

As the bus slowed down at the crowded bus stop, the Pakistani bus conductor leaned from the platform and called out, “Six only!” The bus stopped. He counted on six passengers, rang the bell, and then, as the bus moved off, called to those left behind: “So sorry, plenty of room in my heart – but the bus is full.” He left behind a row of smiling faces. It’s not what you do; it’s the way that you do it.
– Francis Gay

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
– Plato

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
– Leo Buscaglia

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
– Mark Twain

The kindest word in all the world is the unkind word, unsaid.
– Author Unknown

Love thy neighbor, and if it requires that you bend your understanding of the truth, the Truth will understand.
– Robert Brault

To err on the side of kindness is seldom an error.
– Liz Armbruster

The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.
– Benjamin Disraeli

Being considerate of others will take your children further in life than any college degree.
– Marian Wright Edelman

How far you go if life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life, you will have been all of these.
– George Washington Carver

Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.
– George Sand

Write injuries in sand; kindnesses in marble.
– French proverb

When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.
– Abraham Joshua Heschel

It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all of one’s life and find, at the end, that one has no more to offer by way of advice than “try to be a little kinder.”
– Aldous Huxley

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.
– Dalai Lama

The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines.
– Charles Kuralt

Civilization is just a slow process of learning to be kind.
– Author unknown

Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together.
– Johan Wolfgang von Goethe

Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.
– Franklin D. Roosevelt

When kindness has left people, even for a few moments, we become afraid of them, as if their reason had left them.
– Willa Cather

Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping him up.
– Jesse Jackson

Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone,
Kindness in another’s trouble,
Courage in your own.
– Adam Lindsay Gordon

3-14-11 Weekly Quotes: International Women’s Day

From my friend Phyllis Kirson on the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, March 8, 2011: “Honoring all of us as we navigate our lives courageously, tenderly, wisely, and with all the humor and love that we have in our hearts and souls in this life…” [for the good-hearted, the whole-hearted, but not the faint of heart…]

This poem is fromEve Ensler, playwright and activist, founder of V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls. The poem Refuser is from Eve’s book I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World.

REFUSER
From the Lebanese mountains
To the Kenyan village of El Doret
We are practicing self-defense
Versed in Karate, Tai Chi, Judo, and Kung Foo
We are no longer surrendering to our fate.

Now, we are the ones who walk our girl friends home from school.
And we don’t do it with macho. We do it with cool.

Our mothers are the Pink Sari Gang
Fighting off the drunken men
With rose pointed fingers and sticks in
Uttar Pradesh.
The Peshmerga women
in the Kurdish mountains
with barrettes in their hair
and AK47’s instead of pocket books.

We are not waiting anymore to be taken and retaken.

We are the Liberian women sitting
in the Africa sun blockading the exits
til the men figure it out.

We are the Nigerian women
babies strapped to out backs
occupying the oil terminals of Chevron.
We are the women of Kerala
who refused to let Coca Cola
privatize our water.
We are Cindy Sheehan showing up in Crawford without a plan.
We are all those who forfeited husbands boyfriends and dates
Cause we were married to our mission.
We know love comes from all directions and in many forms.
We are Malalai who spoke back to the Afghan Loya Jurga
And told them they were “raping warlords” and
She kept speaking even when they kept
trying to blow up her house.
And we are Zoya whose radical mother was shot dead when Zoya was only a child so she was fed on revolution which was stronger than milk

And we are the ones who kept and loved our babies
even though they have the faces of our rapists.

We are the girls who stopped cutting ourselves to release the pain
And we are the girls who refused to have our clitoris cut
And give up our pleasure.

We are:
Rachel Corrie who wouldn’t couldn’t move away from the Israeli tank.
Aung San Suu Kyi who still smiles after years of not being able to leave her room.
Anne Frank who survives now cause she wrote down her story.
We are Neda Soltani gunned down by a sniper in the streets of
Tehran as she voiced a new freedom and way
And we are Asmaa Mahfouz from the April 6th movement in Egypt
Who twittered an uprising.

We are the women riding the high seas to offer
Needy women abortions on ships.
We are women documenting the atrocities
in stadiums with video cameras underneath our Burqas.
We are seventeen and living for a year in a tree
And laying down in the forests to protect wild oaks.
We are out at sea interrupting the whale murders.
We are freegans, vegans, trannies
But mainly we are refusers.
We don’t accept your world
Your rules your wars
We don’t accept your cruelty and unkindness.
We don’t believe some need to suffer for others to survive
Or that there isn’t enough to go around
Or that corporations are the only and best economic arrangement
And we don’t hate boys, okay?
That’s another bullshit story.

We are refusers
But we crave kissing.
We don’t want to do anything before we’re ready
but it could be sooner than you think
and we get to decide
and we are not afraid of what is pulsing through us.
It makes us alive.

Don’t deny us, criticize us or infantilize us.
We don’t accept checkpoints, blockades or air raids
We are obsessed with learning.
On the barren Tsunamied beaches of Sri Lanka
In the desolate and smelly remains
Of the lower ninth
We want school.
We want school.
We want school.

We know if you plan too long
Nothing happens and things get worse and that
Most everything is found in the action
and instinctively we get that the scariest thing
isn’t dying, but not trying at all.

And when we finally have our voice
and come together
when we let ourselves gather the knowledge
when we stop turning on each other
but direct our energy towards what matters
when we stop worrying about
our skinny ass stomachs or too frizzy hair
or fat thighs
when we stop caring about pleasing
and making everyone so incredibly happy-
We got the Power.

If
Janis Joplin was nominated the ugliest man on her campus
And they sent Angela Davis to jail
If Simone Weil had manly virtues
And Joan of Arc was hysterical
If Bella Abzug was eminently obnoxious
And Ellen Sirleaf Johnson is considered scary
If Arundhati Roy is totally intimidating
and Rigoberta Menchu is pathologically intense
And Julia Butterfly Hill is an extremist freak
Call us hysterical then
Fanatical
Eccentric
Delusional
Intimidating
Eminently obnoxious
Militant
Bitch
Freak
Tattoo me
Witch
Give us our broomsticks
And potions on the stove
We are the girls
who are aren’t afraid to cook.

3-21-11 Weekly Quotes: Humble Oneness in the Face of Fear and Sorrow

[news of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown in Japan began trickling in over colleague’s i-phones and blackberries on my way to a conference on Healing Moments In Trauma Treatment at UCLA last weekend. I had already posted last week’s poem Refuser by Eve Ensler before I left for the conference. How appropriate to be among 800 colleagues devoted to healing trauma with mindfulness – presence, awareness, acceptance – as well as the therapeutic modalities we’re deeply trained in. In the days since then, folks everywhere have gathered to try to take in these disturbing realities, keep our hearts open in the midst of them, and act wisely, on behalf of people in Japan, still Egypt and Libya, still Wisconsin, still Iraq and Afghanistan, still Haiti, still the human oneness of tragedy – and the promise enduring through the eons of emergent spring.]

A letter sent 3/14/2011 from an American living and teaching English in Sendai, Japan for the last ten years. Sent through Wendy Rab, a colleague in the AEDP community, and then forwarded by nearly a dozen friends in the last week:

Things here in Sendai have been rather surreal. But I am very blessed to have wonderful friends who are helping me a lot. Since my shack is even more worthy of that name, I am now staying at a friend’s home. We share supplies like water, food and a kerosene heater. We sleep lined up in one room, eat by candlelight, share stories. It is warm, friendly, and beautiful.

During the day we help each other clean up the mess in our homes. People sit in their cars, looking at news on their navigation screens, or line up to get drinking water when a source is open. If someone has water running in their home, they put out a sign so people can come to fill up their jugs and buckets.

It’s utterly amazingly that where I am there has been no looting, no pushing in lines. People leave their front door open, as it is safer when an earthquake strikes. People keep saying, “Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another.”

Quakes keep coming. Last night they struck about every 15 minutes. Sirens are constant and helicopters pass overhead often.

We got water for a few hours in our homes last night, and now it is for half a day. Electricity came on this afternoon. Gas has not yet come on. But all of this is by area. Some people have these things, others do not. No one has washed for several days. We feel grubby, but there are so much more important concerns than that for us now. I love this peeling away of non-essentials. Living fully on the level of instinct, of intuition, of caring, of what is needed for survival, not just of me, but of the entire group.

There are strange parallel universes happening. Houses a mess in some places, yet then a house with futons or laundry out drying in the sun. People lining up for water and food, and yet a few people out walking their dogs. All happening at the same time.

Other unexpected touches of beauty are first, the silence at night. No cars. No one out on the streets. And the heavens at night are scattered with stars. I usually can see about two, but now the whole sky is filled. The mountains are Sendai are solid and with the crisp air we can see them silhouetted against the sky magnificently.

And the Japanese themselves are so wonderful. I come back to my shack to check on it each day, now to send this e-mail since the electricity is on, and I find food and water left in my entranceway. I have no idea from whom, but it is there. Old men in green hats go from door to door checking to see if everyone is OK. People talk to complete strangers asking if they need help. I see no signs of fear. Resignation, yes, but fear or panic, no.

They tell us we can expect aftershocks, and even other major quakes, for another month or more. And we are getting constant tremors, rolls, shaking, rumbling. I am blessed in that I live in a part of Sendai that is a bit elevated, a bit more solid than other parts. So, so far this area is better off than others. Last night my friend’s husband came in from the country, bringing food and water. Blessed again.

Somehow at this time I realize from direct experience that there is indeed an enormous Cosmic evolutionary step that is occurring all over the world right at this moment. And somehow as I experience the events happening now in Japan, I can feel my heart opening very wide. My brother asked me if I felt so small because of all that is happening. I don’t. Rather, I feel as part of something happening that much larger than myself. This wave of birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent.

Thank you again for your care and Love of me. Anne

A letter sent Tuesday, March 15, 2011 from Thich Nhat Hanh, deep bows to Betsy Rose for passing it on:

Dear friends in Japan,
As we contemplate the great number of people who have died in this tragedy, we may feel very strongly that we ourselves, in some part or manner, also have died. The pain of one part of humankind is the pain of the whole of humankind. And the human species and the planet Earth are one body. What happens to one part of the body happens to the whole body.

An event such as this reminds us of the impermanent nature of our lives. It helps us remember that what’s most important is to love each other, to be there for each other, and to treasure each moment we have that we are alive. This is the best that we can do for those who have died: we can live in such a way that they continue, beautifully, in us.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

How you do anything is how you do everything.
– Cheri Huber

Half Life

our hands stretch out across the sea
between us
only reaching half-way into the fear and
the darkness
who could know when and how
the contours of the earth might shift
taking us down a few feet
throwing us down where
we are now in the muck of our souls
the one soul
taking us down
to examine half-heartedly the words the
last words
so many empty decaying words
that only survive half their meaning
now
we wish we could know or do
what is truly required
to see through the many arms of fate
waving invisibly as they
obscure half the sky on any given day
what shall we do
we are in this together
not just half of us
the half that drills down to the
tender heart at the center
of it all but also the other terrified
half that lives in every heart
dragged before the mirror of
this world
vigilantly protecting itself from
the claws of a jaguar night
the half-darkness of what cannot be shared
there is no other way but to wrap
ourselves around these holy messengers

not half way but fully touching
the countless fingers reaching this way
they are still soft they are
still warm
they are still our
children mothers blood kin of all time
sighing
I spoke to you unkindly
the other day I want to make it
right if you
will give me half a chance
– Gary Horvitz

Life is endless. We are all in the very middle of it. We alone are responsible. There is no way out except through it.
– Ajahn Sumano Bikkhu

For Lost Friends

As twilight makes a rainbow robe
From the concealed colors of day
In order for time to stay alive
Within the dark weight of night,
May we lose no one we love
From the shelter of our hearts. .
When we love another heart
And allow it to love us,
We journey deep below time
Into that eternal weave
Where nothing unravels. .
May we have the grace to see
Despite the hurt of rupture,
The searing of anger,
And the empty disappointment,
That whoever we have loved,
Such love can never quench. .
Though a door may have closed,
Closed between us,
May we be able to view
Our lost friends with eyes
Wise with calming grace;
Forgive them the damage
We were left to inherit; .
Free ourselves from the chains
Of forlorn resentment;

Bring warmth again to
Where the heart has frozen
In order that beyond the walls
Of our cherished hurt
And chosen distance
We may be able to
Celebrate the gifts they brought,
Learn and grow from the pain,
And prosper into difference,
Wishing them the peace
Where spirit can summon
Beauty from wounded space.
~ John O’Donohue
(To Bless the Space Between Us)

Reality is a cliche from which we only escape through metaphor.
– Wallace Stevens

There is a brokenness out of which comes the unbroken,
A shatteredness out of which blooms the unshatterable.
There is sorrow beyond all grief which leads to joy,
And a fragility out of whose depths emerges strength.
There is a hollow space too vast for words
Through which we pass with each loss,
Out of whose darkness we are sanctioned into being.
There is a cry deeper than all sound
Whose serrated edges cut the heart as we break open
To the place inside which is unbreakable and whole,
While learning to sing.
– Rashani

And this heart-tugging YouTube video of a dog who refuses to leave his friend in the wake of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, notice the bark at 34 seconds: ‘follow me’?! Thanks to Danny Yeung of the same AEDP community:

3-28-11 Weekly Quotes: This Is The World I Want To Live In

“Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal”

By Naomi Shihab Nye

After learning my flight was detained 4 hours, I heard the announcement: If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.

Well — one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there. An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly. Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she did this.

I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly. Shu dow-a, shu-biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick, sho bit se-wee? The minute she heard any words she knew — however poorly used – she stopped crying. She thought our flight had been cancelled entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the following day. I said, No, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late, who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.

We called her son and I spoke with him in English. I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and would ride next to her. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and found out, of course, they had ten shared friends. Then I thought, just for the heck of it, why not call some Palestinian poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours. She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering questions.

She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies — little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts — out of her bag — and was offering them to all the women at the gate. To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California, the lovely woman from Laredo — we were all covered with the same powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.

And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers — non-alcoholic — and the two little girls for our flight, one African-American, one Mexican-American — ran around serving us all apple juice and lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar, too.

And I noticed my new best friend — by now we were holding hands — had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought, This is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in this gate — once the crying of confusion stopped — has seemed apprehensive about any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women, too. This can still happen, anywhere.

Not everything is lost.

[I shared the prose-poem above with wonderful participants in the Neuroscience and the Art of Self Care workshop I presented last week at the 2011 Psychotherapy Networker Symposium in Washington, D.C. Very moving experience; very enthusiastic feedback. Alas, the prep time needed means the March e-newsletter on Presence will be posted in April, as will the April newsletter as well.]

4-4-11 Weekly Quotes: Presence

We buy books, we go to gyms, we expend a lot of brain power on trying to hold back time, when we should be celebrating the miracle of being here in this world, now.
– Paulo Coelho

Awaken to the mystery of being here
And enter the quiet immensity of your own presence….
Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention….
Experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.
– John O’Donohue

Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it. We don’t have to travel far away to enjoy the blue sky. We don’t have to leave our city or even our neighborhood to enjoy the eyes of a beautiful child. Even the air we breathe can be a source of joy.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

In the hopes of reaching the moon, men fail to see the flowers that blossom at their feet.
– Albert Schweitzer

If your everyday practice is to be open to all your emotions, to all the people you meet, to all the situations you encounter, without closing down, trusting that you can do that – then that will take you are far as you can go. And then you’ll understand all the teachings that anyone has ever taught.
– Pema Chodron

You cannot be present in an abstract way. Presence is not about disappearing into nothingness. You can only be present with something that is actually here.
– Leonard Jacobson

Focus attention on the feeling inside you.
Know that it is the pain-body.
Accept that it is there.
Don’t think about it – don’t let the feeling turn into thinking.
Don’t judge or analyze.
Don’t make an identity for yourself out of it.
Stay present, and continue to be the observer of what is happening inside you.
Become aware not only of the emotional pain but also of “the one who observes,” the silent watcher.
This is the power of the Now, the power of your own conscious presence.
-Eckhart Tolle

Let go of the idea that the path will lead you to your goal. The truth is that with each step we take, we arrive. Repeat that to yourself every morning: ‘I’ve arrived.’ That way you’ll find it much easier to stay in touch with each second of your day.
– Paulo Coelho

If we refuse to think of anything except what we are doing or the person that we are with, we develop the habit of being present to the present moment. In a way, the present moment becomes as sacred as being in church. Far better to be present to your duty if you are a bartender, than to be present in church and to be thinking about being in a bar. At least you are present to yourself when you are paying attention to what you are doing.
– Thomas Keating

We’ve come to believe that the core capacity needed for accessing the field of the future is presence. We first thought of presence as being fully conscious and aware in the present moment. Then we began to appreciate presence as deep listening, of being open beyond one’s preconceptions and historical ways of making sense. We came to see the importance of letting go of old identities and the need to control….Ultimately, we came to see all these aspects of presence as leading to a state of “letting come,”of consciously participating in a larger field for change. When this happens, the field shifts, and the forces shaping a situation can shift from re-creating the past to manifesting or realizing an emerging future.
– Peter Senge

True listening…is the arising of alert attention, a space of presence in which the words are being received. The words now become secondary. They may be meaningful or they may not make sense. Far more important than what you are listening to is the act of listening itself, the space of conscious presence that arises as you listen. That space is a unifying field of awareness in which you meet the other person without the separative barriers created by conceptual thinking. And now the other person is no longer “other.” In that space, you are joined together as one awareness, one consciousness.
– Eckhart Tolle

Once there is a certain degree of Presence, of still and alert attention in human beings’ perceptions, they can sense the divine life essence, the one indwelling consciousness or spirit in every creature, every life-form, recognize it as one with their own essence and so love it as themselves.
– Eckhart Tolle

The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Empathy is full presence to what’s alive in the other person at this moment.
– John Cunningham

The Difference

I got up early one morning and rushed right into the day;
I had so much to accomplish, I didn’t have time to pray.
Problems just tumbled about me and grew heavier with each task;
Why doesn’t God help me, I wondered; He answered, “You didn’t ask.”
I wanted to see joy and beauty, but the day toiled on, gray and bleak;
I wondered why God didn’t show me – He said, “But you didn’t seek.”
I tried to come into God’s presence; I used all my keys at the lock;
God gently and lovingly chided, “My child, you didn’t knock.”
I woke up early this morning and paused before entering the day;
I had so much to accomplish that I had to take time to pray.
– Unknown

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

The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.
– Henry Miller

Still Point

Leaving home
for work
each day

I hear the trees
say “What’s your hurry?”
Rooted, they
don’t understand

how in my world
we have to rush
to keep in step.

I haven’t even time
to stop and tell them
how on weekends, too,
schedules wait
like nets.

It’s only on a sick day
when I have to venture out
to pick up medicine

that I understand the trees,
there in all their fullness
in a world unpatterned

full of moments,
full of spaces,
every space
a choice.

This day
has not
been turned yet
on the lathe

this day
lies open, light
and shadow. Breath
fills the body easily.
I step

into a world
waiting like
a quiet lover.

– Max Reif

4-11-11 Weekly Quotes [from e-newsletter] Presence – Simply Being and Being With – Heals Trauma (for March 2011)

To be present is far from trivial. It may be the hardest work in the world. And forget about the “may be.” It is the hardest work in the world – at least to sustain presence. And the most important. When you do drop into presence…you know it instantly, feel at home instantly. And being home, you can let loose, let go, rest in your being, rest in awareness, in presence itself, in your own good company.
– Jon Kabat-Zinn

Presence is the bottom line. Presence can begin with interest, which can open up to fascination. Once you’re fascinated with the experience of the moment, you’re like this (gesture of fingers crossed, intimately touching) with life. It doesn’t get any better than that.
– Edward Lewis

The state of being is not only delightful and renewing, it has a very practical benefit as well. Deeper than conflicting thoughts, it is the source of wisdom. When we find ourselves confused or pulled apart by indecision, tapping into presence can align us with what will bring our life into harmony….A deeper wisdom is always available. It might be covered by a lot of static, but it’s there, and we hear it when we drop into being present, when we get past all the noise, relax our grip, and tune into the clarity that arises from the stillness within.
– James Baraz and Shoshana Alexander

Stop talking and thinking and there is nothing you’ll not be able to know.
– Third Zen Patriarch

Focus attention on the feeling inside you.
Know that it is the pain-body.
Accept that it is there.
Don’t think about it – don’t let the feeling turn into thinking.
Don’t judge or analyze.
Don’t make an identity for yourself out of it.
Stay present, and continue to be the observer of what is happening inside you.
Become aware not only of the emotional pain but also of “the one who observes,” the silent watcher.
This is the power of the Now, the power of your own conscious presence.
– Eckhart Tolle

If your everyday practice is to be open to all your emotions, to all the people you meet, to all the situations you encounter, without closing down, trusting that you can do that – then that will take you are far as you can go. And then you’ll understand all the teachings that anyone has ever taught.
– Pema Chodron

Awaken to the mystery of being here
And enter the quiet immensity of your own presence….
Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention….
Experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.
– John O’Donohue

This we have no is not imagination.
This is not grief or joy.
Not a judging state, or an elation, or a sadness.
Those come and go.
This is the presence that doesn’t.
– Rumi, trans. by Coleman Barks

True listening…is the arising of alert attention, a space of presence in which the words are being received. The words now become secondary. They may be meaningful or they may not make sense. Far more important than what you are listening to is the act of listening itself, the space of conscious presence that arises as you listen. That space is a unifying field of awareness in which you meet the other person without the separative barriers created by conceptual thinking. And now the other person is no longer “other.” In that space, you are joined together as one awareness, one consciousness.
– Eckhart Tolle
The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.

This opening to the life
we have refused again and again
until now.

Until now.
– David Whyte

It’s hard to connect with the receptivity of being and hear the truth inside when you’re anxious or stirred up. How do we sort out the various voices when we must make a decision or choice in life? I sometimes find that taking a break from my mind and getting into my body – going for a walk or taking a bike ride – helps discharge agitated energy, gets me grounded, and clears my mind enough to discern the answer that feels right.
– James Baraz

4-18-11 Weekly Quotes: Writing Truth

[The e-newsletters, infused with stories, quotes, and exercises as well as reflections and ideas, are evolving toward a book proposal. Hence these offerings on Writing Truth, especially since my pre-computer brain still drafts everything in long-hand.]

Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.
– Ranier Maria Rilke

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.
– William Wordsworth

Our passions shape our books; repose writes them in the intervals.
– Marcel Proust

No great art has ever been made without the artist having known danger. Surely all art is the result of one’s having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, where no one can go further.
– Ranier Maria Rilke

The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone’s neurosis. We’d have a might dull literature if all the writers that came along were a bunch of happy chuckleheads.
– William Styron

Every word born of an inner necessity – writing must never be anything else.
– Etty Hillesum

One ought only to write when one leaves a piece of one’s own flesh in the inkpot, each time one dips one’s pen.
– Leo Tolstoy

Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.
– Gene Fowler

Writers are not just people who sit down and write. They hazard themselves. Every time you compose a book, your composition of yourself is at stake.
– E. L. Doctorow

Do not assume that he who seeks to comfort you now lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good. His life may also have much sadness and difficulty, that remains far beyond yours. Were it otherwise, he would never have been able to find these words.
– Ranier Maria Rilke

You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.
– Arthur Polotnik

The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium.
– Norbet Platt

There are thousands of thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen and writes.
– William Makepeace Thackeray

The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you really want to say.
– Mark Twain

A good style should show no signs of effort. What is written should seem a happy accident.
– W. Somerset Maugham

When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing.
-Enrique Jardiel Poncela

Easy reading is damn hard writing.
– Nathaniel Hawthorne

Hard writing makes easy reading.
– Wallace Stegner

The best style is the style you don’t notice.
– W. Somerset Maugham

Whether or not you write well, write bravely.
– Bill Stout

Talent is helpful in writing, but guts are absolutely necessary.
– Jessamyn West

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.
-Henry David Thoreau

Words are but the vague shadows of the volumes we mean. Little audible links, they are, chaining together great inaudible feelings and purposes.
– Theodore Dreiser

Every creator painfully experiences the chasm between his inner vision and its ultimate expression. The chasm is never completely bridged. We all have the conviction, perhaps illusory, that we have much more to say than appears on the paper.
– Isaac Bashevis Singer

A man will turn over half a library to make one book.
– Samuel Johnson

If any man wish to write in a clear style, let him be first clear in this thoughts; if any would write in a noble style, let him first possess a noble soul.
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

For fun:

The difference between the right words and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.
– Mark Twain

Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
– author unknown

Do not put statements in the negative form.
And don’t start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never us a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all
De-access euphemisms.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Avoid trendy locutions that sounds flaky.
Last, but not least, avoid clichés like the plague.
– William Safire, “Great Rules of Writing”

4-24-11 Weekly Quotes: Nourishing the Soul in Spring

[after spending a glorious afternoon, storms blown through, among the abundance of wildflowers at Point Reyes National Seashore]

Every spring is the only spring – a perpetual astonishment.
– Ellis Peters

To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wildflower; hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.
– William Blake

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes –
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.
– Elizabeth Barrett Browning

In the hope of reaching the moon men fail to see the flowers that blossom at their feet.
– Albert Schweitzer

I am sick of four walls and a ceiling! I have need of the sky; I have business with the grass.
– Richard Hovey

Listen, can you hear it? Spring’s sweet cantata. The strains of grass pushing through the snow. The song of buds swelling on the vine. The tender timpani of a baby robin’s heart. Spring!
– Diane Frolov

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.
– Kahlil Gibran

Springtime is the land awakening.
– Lewis Grizzard

Earth laughs in flowers.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be a boisterous exultation into the heart of the night.
– Ranier Maria Rilke

People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.
– Iris Murdoch

Can we conceive what humanity would be if it did not know the flowers?
– Maurice Maeterlinck

To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers is a delectable form of defeat.
– Beverly Nichols

If you pass by the color purple in a field and don’t notice it, God gets real pissed off.
– Alice Walker

I might mention all the divine charms of a bright spring day, but if you had never in your life utterly forgotten yourself in the straining your eyes after the mounting lark, or in wandering through the still lanes when the fresh-opened blossoms fill them with a sacred silent beauty, what would be the use of my descriptive catalogue?
– George Eliot

If you’ve never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom.
– Terri Guillemets

Measure your health by your sympathy with morning and spring. If there is no response in you to the awakening of nature – if the prospect of an early morning walk does not banish sleep, if the warble of the first bluebird does not thrill you – know that the morning and spring of your life are past. Thus may you feel your pulse.
– Henry David Thoreau

Who would have thought it possible that a tiny little flower could preoccupy a person so completely that there simply wasn’t room for any other thought?
– Sophie Scholl

A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.
– Walt Whitman

Little flower, but if I could understand what you are, root and all in all, I should know what God and man is.
– Alfred Lord Tennyson

If seeds in the black earth can turn into such beautiful roses, what might not the heart of man become in its long journey toward the stars?
– G.K. Chesterton

When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.
– Chinese proverb

Bread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers feed also the soul.
– The Koran

If of thy mortal goods thou are bereft,
And of thy meager store
Two loaves alone to thee are left,
Sell one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.
– Sheikh Mushli-uddin Saadi, Shirazi

To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter…to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring…these are the rewards of the simple life.
– John Burroughs

I ask for a moment’s indulgence to sit by thy side. The works that I have in hand I will finish afterwards.
Away from the sight of thy face my heart knows no rest nor respite, and my work becomes an endless toil in a shoreless sea of toil.
Today the spring has come at my window with its sighs and murmurs; and the bees are plying their minstrelsy at the court of the flowering grove.
Now it is time to sit quiet, face to face with thee, and to sing dedication of life in this silent and overflowing leisure.
– Rabindranath Tagore

5-2-11 Weekly Quotes [from E-Newsletter] Accommodating Zebras [for April]

You can judge your age by the amount of pain you feel when you come in contact with a new idea.
– Pearl S. Buck

The conscious brain may get all the attention. But consciousness is a small part of what the brain does, and it’s a slave to everything that works beneath it.
– Joseph Ledoux

Transformation really means a change in the way you see the world – and a shift in how you see yourself. It’s not simply a change in your point of view, but rather a whole different perception of what’s possible. It’s the capacity to expand your worldview so that you can appreciate different perspectives, so that you can hold multiple perspectives simultaneously. You’re not just moving around from one point of view to another; you’re really expanding your awareness to encompass more possibilities.
– Frances Vaughan

Crisis, suffering, loss, the unexpected encounter with the unknown – all of this has the potential to initiate a shift in perspective. A way of seeing the familiar with new eyes, a way of seeing the self in a completely new way. The experience that I have in watching people with cancer is that the more overwhelmed someone is at the beginning, the more profound the transformation that they undergo. There’s a moment when the individual steps away from the former life and the former identity and is completely out of control and completely surrenders, and then is reborn with a larger, expanded identity.
– Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.

We want the facts to fit the preconceptions. When they don’t, it is easier to ignore the facts than to change the perceptions.
– Jessamyn West
Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly to whatever abysses nature leads, or you will learn nothing.
– Thomas Huxley

It is not hard to learn more. What is hard is to unlearn when you discover yourself wrong.
– Martin H. Fischer

Knowledge rests not upon truth alone, but upon error also.
– Carl G. Jung

There are no mistakes when there is learning.
– Julia Butterfly Hill
Learning is always rebellion. Every bit of new truth discovered is revolutionary to what we believed before.
– Margaret Lee Runbeck

It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.
– Alan Cohen

Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.
– Anais Nin

To exist is to change; to change is to mature; to mature is to go on creating one’s self endlessly.
– Henri Bergson

New ideas stir from every corner. They show up disguised innocently as interruptions, contradictions, and embarrassing dilemmas. Beware of total strangers and friends alike who shower you with comfortable sameness, and remain open to those who make you uneasy, for they are the true messengers of the future.
– Rob Lebow

We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery.
– Samuel Smiles

5-9-11 Weekly Quotes: New Mothering

I’ve had three close colleagues give birth recently. Welcome James, Skye, Pema, to the human journey. And blessings to their joy-filled but sleep-deprived parents: Meredith and Daniel, Rebecca and Tod, Joanna and Noah.

These poems from John O’Donohue’s To Bless the Space between Us, honor the pangs and poignancies of mothering and fathering. (See the archives www.lindagraham-mft.net for last year’s Mother’s Day and Father’s Day quotes.)

FOR A MOTHER-TO-BE

Nothing could have prepared
Your heart to open like this.

From beyond the skies and the stars
This echo arrived inside you
And started to pulse with life,
Each beat a tiny act of growth,
Traversing all our ancient shapes
On its way home to itself.

Once it began, you were no longer your own.
A new, more courageous you, offering itself
In a new way to a presence you can sense
But you have not seen or known.

It has made you feel alone
In a way you never knew before;
Everyone else sees only from the outside
What you feel and feed
With every fiber of your being.

Never have you traveled farther inward
Where words and thoughts become half-light
Unable to reach the fund of brightness
Strengthening inside the night of your womb.

Like some primeval moon,
Your soul brightens,
The tides of essence
That flow to your child.

Your know your life has changed forever,
For in all the days and years to come,
Distance will never be able to cut you off
From the one you now carry
For nine months under your heart.

May you be blessed with quiet confidence
That destiny will guide you and mind you.

May the emerging spirit of your child
Imbibe encouragement and joy
From the continuous music of your heart,
So that it can grow with ease
Expectant of wonder and welcome
When its form is fully filled

And it makes its journey out
To see you and settle at last
Relieved, and glad in your arms.

FOR A NEW FATHER

As the shimmer of dawn transforms the night
Into a blush of color futured with delight,
The eyes of your new child awaken in you
A brightness that surprises your life.

Since the first stir of its secret becoming,
The echo of your child has lived inside you,
Strengthening through all its night of forming
Into a sure pulse of fostering music.

How quietly and gently that embryo-echo
Can womb in the bone of a man
And foster across the distance to the mother
A shadow-shelter around this fragile voyage

Now as you behold your infant, you know
That this child has come from you and to you;
You feel the full force of a father’s desire
To protect and shelter.

Perhaps for the first time,
There awakens in you
A sense of your own mortality.

Mya your heart rest in the grace of the gift
And you sense how you have been called
Inside the dream of this new destiny.

May you be gentle and loving,
Clear and sure.

May you trust in the unseen providence
That has chosen you all to be a family.

May you stand sure on your ground
And know that every grace you need
Will unfold before you
Like all the mornings of your life.

And because, simply because, this has happened to dear friends, too, on the human journey:

FOR A PARENT ON THE DEATH OF A CHILD

No one knows the wonder
Your child awoke in you,
Your heart a perfect cradle
To hold its presence.
Inside and outside became one
As new waves of love
Kept surprising your soul.

Now you sit bereft
Inside a nightmare,
Your eyes numbed by the sight of a grave
No parent should ever see.

You will wear this absence
Like a secret locket,
Always wondering why
Such a new and pure soul
Was taken home too soon.

Let the silent tears flow
And when your eyes clear
Perhaps you will glimpse
How your eternal child
Has become the unseen angel
Who parents your heart
And persuades the moon
To send new gifts ashore.

5-16-11 Weekly Quotes: Poignancy

[I was deeply moved by hearing Gustav Mahler’s 6th Symphony this past weekend – the Tragic Symphony. (The last time the San Francisco Symphony performed it was the weekend after 9/11.) Much has been made of Mahler writing the 6th symphony during the happiest time of his life, head over heels in love with his wife, father of two adorable daughters, music director of the prestigious Vienna State Opera, avid hiker and swimmer in the summers as well as passionate composer. The prescient motif of the 6th Symphony is life or fate felling a hero in the prime of this life, a message of death and devastation rather than triumph or transcendence. Three years after Mahler completed the symphony, his 4 year old daughter died suddenly of diphtheria-scarlet fever, he was acrimoniously fired from his position at the Vienna State Opera, and he learned of the severity of his heart condition that would cause his death just a few short years later. I left the symphony that night deeply moved once again by how glorious life is and how precarious it is, too. Death and sorrow inextricably interwoven with life and joy; the life we never ordered becoming the life that is.]

There’s no beauty without poignancy and there’s no poignancy without the feeling that it’s all going… men, names, books, houses – bound for dust – mortal….
– F. Scott Fitzgerald

One cannot be deeply responsive to the world without being saddened very often.
– Erich Fromm

The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.
– Helen Keller

You carry in yourself all the obstacles necessary to make your realization perfect. If you discover a very black hole, a thick shadow, be sure there is somewhere in you a great light. It is up to you to know how to use the one to realize the other.
– Sri Auribindo

Suffering alone cannot break the human spirit. Human sorrow is not a pathology; it is a poignant inheritance we share with all the family of the earth. In the face of whatever loss, illness, or harm we are given, we remain people of great courage, wisdom and healing.
– Wayne Muller

Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.
– Henry David Thoreau

Deep, unspeakable suffering may well be called a baptism, a regeneration, an initiation through the passing over the threshold of pain and grief and anguish into a new state of being.
– George Elliot

Allow

There is no controlling life.
Try corralling a lightning bolt,
containing a tornado. Dam a
stream, and it will create a new
channel. Resist and the tide
will sweep you off your feet.

Allow, and grace will carry
you to higher ground. The only
safety lies in letting it all in –
the wild with the weak: fear,
fantasies, failures and success.
When loss rips off the doors of
the heart, or sadness veils your
vision with despair, practic
becomes simply bearing the truth.
In the choice to let go of your
known way of being, the whole
world is revealed to your new eyes.
– Danna Faulds

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
– Kahlil Gibran

Farewell [written after the death of his wife and three of his five children]

Peace, my heart.
Let the time for parting be sweet.
Let it not be a death, but completeness.
Let love melt into memory
And pain into song.
Let the flight through the sky end
In the folding of the wings over the nest.
Let the last touch of your hands
Be gentle like the flower of the night.
Stand still, oh beautiful end, for a moment,
And say your last words in silence.
I bow to you and hold up my lamp
To light you on your way.

– Rabindranath Tagore

5-23-11 Weekly Quotes [from E-Newsletter] Touch II

Touch is a vital element, if not the element, in bringing people into presence, awareness and interconnection with life.”
– Eve Siegel

Studies have shown touch to be the primary language of compassion, love and gratitude – emotions at the heart of trust and cooperation – even more than facial expressions and voice. Touch is the central medium in which the goodness of one individual can spread to another. Touch is the original contact high.
– Dacher Keltner, Greater Good Science Center

The quality of the touch we receive and are encouraged to give from earliest infancy on is the basis of our feeling of connection or disconnection with others.”
– Eve Siegel

In the absence of touching and being touched, people of all ages can sicken and grow touched starved. Touch seems to be as essential as sunlight.
– Diane Ackerman, The Natural History of the Senses

Touch can alienate or profoundly integrate the connection between people depending on its nature and intent. It also can lead a person deeper into his or her own being, opening space for change and possibilities to arise.

Clearly, when one person touches another with mindfulness and compassion, there is no limit to the possibilities for transformation. The energetic focusing of this contact ignites the deep inner awareness inherent in the human consciousness, which is so often dulled through neglect or injury in a person’s development.

To be guided by touch, one needs to learn to be aware of its immense power to change or refocus stagnant ways of being and relating with the slightest pressure of contact. Then it is possible to take advantage of its life-healing properties, its ability to help us connect, transform, to ‘come alive and aware.
– Eve Siegel

I teach infant massage classes to parents with the help of my co-teacher – the baby. Some parents know how to do this dance easily, some are unsure and some are told by the System that they do not know how to do it. I have found that all parents can learn this basic dance if they have the desire to connect with their baby. Whatever age we reach in our life time, the need to be touched, rocked , and cooed, held close and know that we are precious in the eyes and heart and hands of another human being never goes away. – Cherry Jones

In the first year of your child’s life, your body, much more than your mind or your words, is your primary communication tool. You receive almost all the incoming information you need from your baby through your body and its sensations (as opposed to the communication we tend to focus on as adults – the exchange of ideas). And all the outgoing information you deliver to your baby goes through your body as well. You connect with your baby through your facial expressions, your warmth, your touch, your tone of voice, and your tension or relaxation in each moment. In fact, everything your baby knows about you and is learning from you during this time of ultimate brain plasticity, when neural pathways are being laid down for life, is happening through the communication between your body and you baby’s body. Your body is likely the primary source of nutrition, and even if you are bottle feeding, your body during feeding times nourishes the baby with important skin-to-skin contact.
– Cassi Vietan, Mindful Motherhood

To touch is to give life.
– Michelangelo

Touch is the alpha and omega of affection.
– William James

In the person whose childhood has known caresses and kindness, there is always a fibre of memory that can be touched to gentle issues.
– George Eliot

Some of the dictionary’s uses of touch identified by Jon Kabat-Zinn: we can be out of touch, lose touch, be touched (as in the head) and feel touched (as when our hearts are moved). We can not touch our food, put the touch on someone for money, feel a touch of envy or sadness, add a touch of paprika, have a touch of the flu, let the candlelight provide just the right touch, but told not to touch anything, touch off an uproar, touch upon something in conversation, touch up the scratches on our car, add finishing touches to the flower arrangements, and touch base with someone.

We cannot touch something without being touched by it in the very same instant. We cannot be touched without touching. Walking barefoot, our feet kiss the earth with every step, and the earth kisses right back and we feel it.

For all that, we tend to be specialists at being out of touch a great deal of the time, and out of touch with just how out of touch we can be. It is easy to eat without tasting, miss the fragrance of the moist earth after a rain even touch others without knowing the feelings we are transmitting. How many times have you unwittingly and improbably walked into the door you were opening, or inadvertently banged your hand or elbow on something, or dropped something you didn’t know you were carrying because in that moment, you weren’t actually all there, and so were momentarily out of touch even with the spatial and temporal orientation of the body, which normally we have covered without too much specific attention. And is it not the case that we are sometimes equally and grossly out of touch with what we call the “outside” world, with our effects on other people, with what they care about and may be going through and feeling, even when it is written on their faces or apparent in their body language, if only we were available to ourselves to take notice.
– Jon Kabat-Zinn, coming to our Senses

The Lightest Touch

Good poetry begins with
the lightest touch,
a breeze arriving from nowhere,
a whispered healing arrival,
a word in your ear,
a settling into things,
then, like a hand in the dark,
it arrests the whole body,
steeling you for revelation.

In the silence that follows
a great line,
you can feel Lazarus,
deep inside
even the laziest, most deathly afraid
part of you,
lift up his hands and walk toward the light.

– David Whyte
Everything is Waiting for You

5-30-11 Weekly Quotes: Courage in the Face of Pain and Peril

[My family medical crisis is not yet resolved, though everyone is being as pro-active and professionally/personally competent as they can be. These postings on Memorial Day are not only to honor folks who have died to preserve the dream of political freedom. These postings are to honor everyone who shows up for the journey of life as bravely as they can, moving into death with as much grace and gratitude as possible. And for those of us living, finding the courage to show up for the human enterprise as fully as we can, while we can.]

For without belittling the courage with which men have died, we should not forget those acts of courage with which men have lived.
– John F. Kennedy

Courage, in the final analysis, is nothing but an affirmative answer to the shocks of existence.
– Kurt Goldstein

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.
– Anais Nin

Courage is the knowledge of how to fear what ought to be feared and how not to fear what ought not to be feared.
– David Ben-Gurion

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.
– Ambrose Redmoon

It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.
– Marcus Aurelius

Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.
– Seneca

To have the courage for whatever comes in life – everything lies in that.
– St. Teresa of Avila

Not so infrequently, in the course of dealing with tragedy, with destruction, with misfortune, and evil, we are taken aback by the miracles that we are privileged to witness. Steeled for the worst, we encounter the best. It is not only that some are strong at the broken places; it is also that, through trauma, others become strong, and discover they’re strong in ways they never knew. For sometimes trauma awakens extraordinary capacities that otherwise would lie dormant, unknown and untapped. Without the trauma, they would never see the light of day.
– Diana Fosha

The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.
– Chinese proverb

I thank God for my handicaps, for through them, I have found myself, my work, and my God.
– Helen Keller

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience by which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.
– Georgia O’Keefe

Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.
– Edward Vernon Rickenbacker

The bravest thing you can do when you are not brave is to profess courage and act accordingly.
– Corra Harris

Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you’re scared to death.
– Harold Wilson

Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death.
– Gen. Omar Bradley

Courage can’t see around corners, but goes around them anyway.
– Mignon McLaughlin

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

Courage is nothing less than the power to overcome danger, misfortune, fear, injustice, while continuing to affirm inwardly that life with all its sorrows is good, that everything is meaningful, even if in a sense beyond our understanding.
– Dorothy Thompson

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.
– Mary Anne Radmacher

Courage is not limited to the battlefield or the Indianapolis 500 or bravely catching a thief in your house. The real tests of courage are much quieter. They are the inner tests, like remaining faithful when nobody’s looking, like enduring pain when the room is empty, like standing alone when you’re misunderstood.
– Charles Swindoll

The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next.
– Mignon McLaughlin

Courage is not the towering oak trees that sees storms come and go. It is the fragile blossom that opens in the snow.
– Alice M. Swaim

At the end of the day, the fact that we have the courage to still be standing is reason enough to celebrate.
– Meredith Grey

The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.
– Robert Green Ingersoll

There is a strength of a quiet endurance as significant of courage as the most daring feats of prowess.
empty, like standing alone when you’re misunderstood.
– Henry Tuckerman

Courage is fear that has said its prayers.
– Dorothy Bernard

Each person has inside a basic decency and goodness. If he listens to it and acts on it, he is giving a great deal of what it is the world needs most. It is not complicated but it takes courage. It takes courage for a person to listen to his own good.
– Pablo Casals

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 the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes like an iceberg between the should 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.

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the 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.

– Mary Oliver

6-6-11 Weekly Quotes: Gardening as Refuge and Renewal

[Gardening as refuge…and renewal. In these times…in all times.]

When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, there is always the garden.
– Minnie Aumonier

How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence.
– Benjamin Disraeli

Cares melts when you kneel in your garden.
– Author Unknown

All my hurts my garden space can heal.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

The garden is the poor man’s apothecary.
– German proverb

You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt.
– Author Unknown

If I were to name the three most precious resources of life, I should say books, friends and nature, and the greatest of these, at least the most constant and always at hand, is nature.
– John Burroughs

No two gardens are the same. No two days are the same in one garden.
– Hugh Johnson

People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.
– Iris Murdoch

Gardening is about enjoying the smell of things growing in the soil, getting dirty without feeling guilty, and generally taking the time to soak up a little peace and serenity.
– Lindley Karstens

I sit in my garden, gazing upon a beauty that cannot gaze upon itself. And I find sufficient purpose for my day.
– Robert Brault

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.
– Rachel Carson

It is good to be alone in a garden at dawn or dark so that all its shy presences may haunt you and possess you in a reverie of suspended thought.
– James Douglas

To me the lowliest flower that blows can give thoughts that often lie too deep for tears.
– William Wordsworth

In my garden there is a large place for sentiment. My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful.
– Abram. L. Urban

I have never had so many good ideas day after day as when I worked in a garden.
– John Erskine

Gardening simply does not allow one to be mentally old, because too many hopes and dreams are yet to be realized.
– Allan Armitage

If you’ve never experienced the joy of accomplishing more than you can imagine, plant a garden.
– Robert Brault

Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination.
– Mrs. C.W. Earle

Gardeners, I think, dream bigger dreams than emperors.
– Mary Cantwell

To see things in the seed, that is genius.
– Lao Tzu

When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment.
– Georgia O’Keefe

If you could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, your whole life would change.
– Buddha

She who plants a seed beneath the sod and waits to see a plant, believes in God.
– Author Unknown

Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden?
– Robert Brault

Just tickle earth with a hoe and she laughs with a harvest.
– Douglas William Jerrold

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.
– Dorothy Frances Gurney

Gardening is civil and social, but it wants the vigor and freedom of the forest and the outlaw.
– Henry David Thoreau

Let no one thing that real gardening is a bucolic and meditative occupation. It is an insatiable passion, like everything else to which a man gives his heart.
– Karel Capek

My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant’s point of view.
– H. Fred Dale

Gardening requires lots of water – most of it in the form of perspiration.
– Lou Erickson

Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made
By singing: – “Oh, how beautiful!” and sitting in the shade,
While better men than we go out, and start their working lives
By grubbing weeds from garden paths with broken dinner knives.
– Rudyard Kipling

Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets used to it.
– Author Unknown

And when your back stops aching and your hands begin to harden, you will find yourself a partner in the glory of the garden.
– Rudyard Kipling

It is utterly forbidden to be half-hearted about gardening. You have got to love your garden whether you like it or not.
– W.C. Sellar

Nature does have manure and she does have roots as well as blossoms, and you can’t hate the manure and blame the roots for not being blossoms.
– Buckminster Fuller

We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.
– Abraham Lincoln

If you really want to draw close to your garden, you must remember first of all that you are dealing with a being that lives and dies, like the human body, with its poor flesh, its illnesses at times repugnant. One must not always see it dressed up for a ball, manicured and immaculate.
-Fernand Lequenne

A garden is always of series of losses set against a few triumphs, like life itself.
– May Sarton

I want death to find me planting my cabbages.
– Montaigne

[And after the storms blew through this afternoon, a little girl from the neighborhood was picking Santa Barbara daisies from my front yard and floating them down the run-off on the street like little sailboats.

– Linda G.]

6-13-11 Weekly Quotes: Fathers

For a Father

The longer we live,
The more of your presence
We find, laid down,
Weave upon weave
Within our lives.

The quiet constancy of your gentleness
Drew no attention to itself,
Yet filled our home
With a climate of kindness
Where each mind felt free
To seek its own direction.

As the field of distance
Opened inside childhood,
Your presence was a sheltering tree
Where our fledgling hearts could rest.

The earth seemed to trust your hands
As they tilled the soil, put in the seed,
Gathered together the lonely stones.

Something in you loved to inquire
In the neighborhood of air,
Searching its transparent rooms
For the fallen glances of God.

The warmth and wonder of your prayer
Opened our eyes to glimpse
The subtle ones who
Are eternally there.

Whenever, silently, in off moments,
The beauty of the whole thing overcame you,
You would gaze quietly out upon us,
The look from your eyes
Like a kiss alighting on skin.

There are many things
We could have said,
But words never wanted
To name them;
And perhaps a world
That is quietly sensed
Across the air
In another’s heart
Becomes the inner companion
to one’s own unknown.
– John O’Donohue

Being Sensible

The doctor had taken me aside to review the scans.
He pointed out the territory of concern
While my father sat slouched in his chair
Behind me, distracted by some more compelling
Inner movie.

There it was. A menacing presence in the temporal
Lobe, certain to grow. I mumbled something
To the doctor about operating – not really asking seriously,
Recalling the promises my father had made to me
And to himself about life

And death.
As we drove home on the wide boulevard
Under the hospital-bright sunshine of the Florida Gold Coast
That day, Daniel sat silently in the passenger seat.
I searched his face and manner for a

Window into his world.
Then he asked me what the doctor had said.
I turned and after a pause
Told him there was a tumor in his brain.
After a moment he asked me what the doctor wanted to do.

I told him there was nothing to be done.
He gazed silently ahead.
We behold the beauty of innocence in the
Fresh eyes of the very young
Before they don the armoring of this world.

And in the seasoned eyes of the very old
As they slowly cast it off.
Rumi says that to be calm and sensible
In this world is to be insane.
I wondered which part of Daniel heard

What I had told him and whether there
Wasn’t some choice occurring in that moment to
Go further toward the innocence
Of aging, being completely in this moment
Without memory, free of the fear that is

Part of the sensible world.
Or perhaps whether Daniel was abiding
Another deeper promise he
Had made to himself even longer ago,
Before choosing this life,

About how he would live out his days.
If that was so, then I witnessed him keeping his promise
That day and every day thereafter as I
Became the sensible one who, looking straight ahead,
Just kept driving.
– Gary Horvitz

Parkinson’s Disease

While spoon-feeding him with one hand
She holds his hand with her other hand,
Or rather lets it rest on top of his,
Which is permanently clenched shut.
When he turns his head away, she reaches
Around and puts in the spoonful blind.
He will not accept the next morsel
Until he has completely chewed this one.
His bright squint tells her he finds
The shrimp she has just put in delicious.
Next to the voice and touch of those we love,
Food may be our last pleasure on earth –
A man on death row takes his T-bone
In small bites and swishes each sip
Of the jug wine around in his mouth,
Tomorrow will be too late for them to jolt
This supper out of him. She strokes
His head very slowly, as if to cheer up
each separate discomfited hair sticking up
From its root in his stricken brain.
Standing behind him, she presses
Her cheek to his, kisses his jowl,
And his eyes seem to stop seeing
And do nothing but emit light.
Could heaven be a time, after we are dead,
Of remembering the knowledge
Flesh had from flash? The flesh
Of his face is hard, perhaps
From years spent facing down others
Until they fell back, and harder
From years of being himself faced down
And falling back in his turn, and harder still
From all the while frowning
And beaming and worrying and shouting
And probably letting go in rages.
His face softens into a kind
Of quizzical wince, as if one
Of the other animals were working at
Getting the knack of the human smile.
When picking up a cookie he uses
Both thumbtips to grip it
And push it against an index finger
To secure it so that he can lift it.
She takes him then to the bathroom,
Where she lowers his pants and removes
The wet diaper and holds the spout of the bottle
To his old penis until he pisses all he can,
Then puts on the fresh diaper and pulls up his pants.
When they come out, she is facing him
Walking backwards in front of him
And holding his hands, pulling him
When he stops, reminding him to step
When he forgets and starts to pitch forward.
She is leading her old father into the future
As far as they can go, and she is walking
Him back into her childhood, where she stood
In bare feet on the toes of his shoes
And they foxtrotted on this same rug.
I watch them closely; she could be teaching him
The last steps that one day she may teach me.
At this moment, he glints and shines,
As if it will be only a small dislocation
For him to pass from this paradise into the next.
– Galway Kinnell

On the Death of a Father

I was schooled well before he died, able at least
To feel what others felt when their fathers
Were deceased. Able but not willing
And not without despair to glimpse the man
Who’d hide the truth of just how much he cared.
My ardent truth was fulsome gloom
Moribund and drear, my face a patent emptiness
Occluding every tear; I’d gone to view him in his bier
And hoped he wasn’t there.

Driven to be reassured with no idea
Of what I’d see, uncertain in my gnawing fear,
Led to where they said he rested comfortably,
– a wasted corpse too small to fill the space
The giant of my admiring youth had easily
Displaced; it wore my father’s face disgraced
In modest death – a crushing disappointment,
A jest, I knew at once it was another
In his place. The man I loved for patience
And simplicity was clearly somewhere else instead,
Yet dead, yet dead, oh most implacably.

Our somber deed that day was one and last
For our departed Dad, we wore his coffin
On our rounded shoulders to its grave,
A coruscating scar before our heavy paths,
Its blinding light a-thunder in our dismal thoughts,
Our sight assailed with shattered shards that
Charred the metaphors we brought to hear,
The metaphors we wrought with care,
The loving icons of our youth we fraught
To share and bury with familiar treasures
Vested there. I fear I did not cry that night,
I did not dare.

This dismal place I hide my grief is crowded shame,
My father would have taught me tame my trembling lips
Without contempt, face far constraints tight-lipped,
Remain serene; I dream how well I played his silent game.

The years that separate me from the choke-voiced son
Who spoke his Father’s eulogy with clumsy tongue
Cleared the final clod of filial uncertainty. I know
My sons as one who loves, and know and feel
their love for me. In memories of a father whom
We laid to rest in strident peace and nascent piety
I see the vibrant image of the golden ones;
I so regret I never said how much I loved you
Dad, and so lament that you, Norman Frank Luke,
Never spoke candidly of how much you loved too.
– Ivan Donn Carswell

6-20-11 Weekly Quotes: Savoring Summer Solstice

Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.– Henry James

Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit.  A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all’s right with the world.– Ada Louise Huxtable

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.– John Lubbock

Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.– Sam Keen

No price is set on the lavish summer;
June may be had by the poorest comer– James Russell Lowell

A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.– James Dent

Heat, ma’am!  It was so dreadful here, that I found there was nothing left for it but to take off my flesh and sit in my bones.– Sydney Smith

I walk without flinching through the burning cathedral of the summer.  My bank of wild grass is majestic and full of music.  It is a fire that solitude presses against my lips.-Violette Leduc

In summer, the song sings itself.– Williams Carlos Williams

[and because I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and it is so woefully true….]

The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.– Mark Twain

6-27-11 Weekly Quotes [from e-Newsletter] Anger: A Prelude to Courage

It’s never what people do that makes us angry; it’s what we tell ourselves about what they did that makes us angry.
– Marshall Rosenberg

Flying off the handle sometimes causes hammers and humans to lose their heads, as well as their effectiveness.
– William Arthur Ward

Anger is a signal and one worth listening to.
– Harriet Lerner, The Dance of Anger

Anger is a signpost showing us where change is needed.
– Diana Rico

Conflict can be a symptom of something that can be improved.
– Vivian Scott

Healthy anger requires us to define ourselves and to be the best expert on what values, priorities and desires are not negotiable under relationship pressures. It requires us to change our part in the relationship patterns from which our anger springs…..Healthy anger requires self-focus, so we can observe and change our part in the patterns that keep us stuck, rather than dissipating our energy trying to change another person who doesn’t want to change.
– Harriet Lerner

Anger is a symptom, a way of cloaking and expressing feelings too awful to experience directly – hurt, bitterness, grief, and most of all, fear and shame.
– Joan Rivers

If we could learn to like ourselves, even a little, maybe our cruelties and angers might melt away.
– John Steinbeck

In certain trying circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity furnishes a relief denied even to prayer.
– Mark Twain

In a controversy, the instant we feel anger, we have already ceased striving for truth and have begun striving for ourselves.
– Abraham J. Heschel

Anger is not bad. Anger can be a very positive thing, the thing that moves us beyond the acceptance of evil.
– Joan Chittister

The world needs anger. The world often continues to allow evil because it isn’t angry enough.
– Bede Jarrett

Anger may be foolish and absurd, and one may be irritated when in the wrong, but a man never feels outraged unless in some respect he is at bottom right.
– Victor Hugo

Anger is a great force. If you control it, it can be transmuted into a power which can move the whole world.
– Joanna Macy

That [anger] which we had previously run from and rejected turns out to be the redemptive source of vitality, creativity and authentic spirituality.
– Stephen Diamond

There’s no such thing as a bad emotion, only an unprocessed one.
– Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.

Feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead f being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we fell we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.
– Pema Chodron

Anybody can become angry, that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everybody’s power, that is not easy.
– Aristotle

Do not teach your children never to be angry. Teach them how to be angry.
– Lyman Abbott

A man that does not know how to be angry does not know how to be good.
– Henry Ward Beecher

Two things a man should never be angry at: what he can help, and what he cannot help.
– Plato

Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.
– Thomas a Kempis

When you are offended at any man’s fault, turn to yourself and study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger.
– Epictetus

It is wise to direct your anger towards problems – not people; to focus your energies on answers – not excuses.
– William Arthur Ward

For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.
– Chinese proverb

Anger ventilated often hurries toward forgiveness, and concealed often hardens into revenge.
– Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.
– Buddha

Life is too short to hold a grudge, also too long.
– Robert Brault

To carry a grudge is like being stung to death by one bee.
– William H. Walton

Of the seven deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back. In many ways, it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.
– Frederick Buechner

How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.
– Marcus Aurelius

Consider how much more you often suffer from your anger and grief, than from those very things for which you are angry and grieved.
– Marcus Antonius

Anger, if not restrained, is frequently more hurtful to us than the injury that provokes it.
– Seneca

If you would cure anger, do not feed it. Say to yourself : “I used to be angry every day; then every other day; now only every third or fourth day.” When you reach thirty days, offer a sacrifice to thanksgiving to the gods.
– Epictetus (55AD – 135 AD)

The best remedy for a short temper is a long walk.
– Jacqueline Schiff

Take no revenge that you have not pondered beneath a starry sky, or on a canyon overlook, or to the lapping of waves and the mewing of a distant gull.
– Robert Brault

Where there is anger, there is always pain underneath.
– Eckhart Tolle

One of the best ways of keeping your temper in an argument, as most of us know only too well, is not to listen to anything the ;other person has to say.
– Alice Miller

I don’t have to attend every argument I’m invited to.
– Author Unknown

There is nothing more galling to angry people than the coolness of those on whom they wish to vent their spleen.
– Alexander Dumas

Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you were.
– Cherie Carter-Scott

Genuine forgiveness does not deny anger but faces it head-on.
– Alice Miller

Holding on to anger, resentment, and hurt only gives you tense muscles, a headache and a sore jaw from clenching your teeth. Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and lightness in your life.
– Henry Ward Beecher

Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.
– Malachy McCourt

Anger will never disappear so long as thoughts of resentment are cherished in the mind. Anger will disappear just as soon as thoughts of resentment are forgotten.
– Buddha

To forgive is indeed the best form of self-interest, since anger, resentment, and reveng are corrosive of the “summum bonum,’ the greatest good.
– Bishop Desmond Tutu

I was angry with my friend
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not; my wrath did grow.
– William Blake, A Poison Tree

I have a right to my anger, and I don’t want anybody telling me I shouldn’t be, it’s not nice to be, and they something’s wrong with me because I get angry.
– Maxine Waters

Anger blows out the lamp of the mind. In the examination of a great and important question, everyone should be serene, slow-pulsed and calm.
– Robert G. Ingersoll

At the core of all anger is a need that is not being fulfilled.
– Marshall Rosenberg

7-4-11 Weekly Quotes: Freedom of Thought

[I sang the song below by Pete Seeger on many a Fourth of July; based on a 200-year old German folk song:]

Die Gedanken Sind Frei, my thoughts freely flower,
Die Gedanken Sind Frei, my thoughts give me power
No scholar can map them
No hunter can trap them
No man can deny, Die Gedanken Sind Frei

I think as I please, and this gives me pleasure;
My conscience decrees this right I must treasure
My thoughts will not cater
To duke or dictator
No man can deny, Die Gedanken Sind Frei

And should tyrants take me and throw me in prison
My thoughts will burst free like blossoms in season
Foundations will crumble and structures will tumble
And free men will cry, Die Gedanken Sind Frei
– Pete Seeger

Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently.
– Rosa Luxemburg

Freedom is not worth having it if does not connote the freedom to err. It passes my comprehension how human beings, be they ever so experienced and able, can delight in depriving other human beings of that precious right.
– Mahatma Gandhi

Liberty is the possibility of doubting, of making a mistake, of searching and experimenting, of saying No to any authority – literary, artistic, philosophical, religious, social, and even political.
– Ignazio Silone

If we do not believe in freedom of speech for those we despise, we do not believe in it at all.
– Noam Chomsky

Freedom is not merely the opportunity to do as one pleases; neither is it merely the opportunity to choose between set alternatives. Freedom is, first of all, the chance to formulate the available choices, the chance to argue over them – and then, the opportunity to choose.
– C. Wright Mills

The pillars of truth and the pillars of freedom – they are the pillars of society.
– Henrik Ibsen

It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America.
– Molly Ivins

If to be free is the most important goal of all, then to help someone else to be or to become free, must be the most sublime and rewarding of human endeavors.
– Elie Wiesel

For every man who lives without freedom, the rest of us must face the guilt.
– Lillian Hellman

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
– Viktor Frankl

Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on the earth. I said then and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.
– Eugene V. Debs

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches it arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action –
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
– Rabindranath Tagore, beloved poet of India
Nobel Laureate, 1913

7-10-11 Weekly Quotes: More Thoughts on Freedom of Thought

[Deep thanks to Rob Feraru who sent along these quotes after last week’s posting. These quotes remind me how deeply embedded and universal is the longing for freedom of thought and spirit.]

It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.
– Baha’u’llah

The love of one’s country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?
– Pablo Casals

To him in whom love dwells, the whole world is but one family.
– Buddha

To me, it seems a dreadful indignity to have a soul controlled by geography.
– George Santayana

It is not easy to see how the more extreme forms of nationalism can long survive when men have seen the Earth in its true perspective – as a single, small globe against the stars.
– Arthur C. Clarke

I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth, and I am a citizen of the world.
– Eugene V. Debs

If I knew something that would serve my country but would harm mankind, I would never reveal it; for I am a citizen of humanity first and by necessity, and a citizen of France second, and only by accident.
– Montesquieu

Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong.
– James Bryce

He is a poor patriot whose patriotism does not enable him to understand how all men everywhere feel about their altars and their hearthstones, their flag and their fatherland.
– Harry Emerson Fosdick

Our country is the world, our countrymen are all mankind. We love the land of our nativity, only as we love all other lands. The interests, rights, and liberties of American citizens are no more dear to us than are those of the whole human race. Hence we can allow no appeal to patriotism, to revenge any national insult or injury.
– William Lloyd Garrison

Can anything be stupider than that a man has the right to kill me because he lives on the other side of a river and his ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I have not quarrelled with him?
– Blaise Pascal

The time is fast approaching when to call a man a patriot will be the deepest insult you can offer him. Patriotism now means advocating plunder in the interest of the privileged classes of the particular State system into which we have happened to be born.
– Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it.
– George Bernard Shaw

Borders are scratched across the hearts of men
By strangers with a calm, judicial pen,
And when the borders bleed we watch with dread
The lines of ink across the map turn red.
– Marya Mannes

If patriotism is “the last refuge of a scoundrel,” it is not merely because evil deeds may be performed in the name of patriotism, but because patriotic fervor can obliterate moral distinctions altogether.
– Ralph B. Berry

You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it.
– Malcolm X

7-18-11 Weekly Quotes: Awe and Wonder

[after months of intense, nose-to-the-grindstone focus on a project, a sweet morning of re-discovering carpets of wildflowers, fungi, salamanders at the base of a waterfall; I fell in awe.]

The human venture depends absolutely on this quality of awe and reverence and joy in the Earth and all that lives and grows upon the Earth. As soon as we isolate ourselves from these currents of life, and from the profound mood that these engender within us, then our basic life satisfactions are diminished. None of our machine-made products, none of our computer-based achievements, can evoke that total commitment to life.
– Thomas Berry

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.
– Albert Einstein

The world will never starve for want of wonders, but for want of wonder.
– G.K. Chesterton

People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but too walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child – our own two eyes. All is a miracle.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.
– Buddha

Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.
– John Milton

People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the seas, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass by themselves without wondering.
– St. Augustine

Two things fill the heart with renewed and increasing awe and reverence the more often and the more steadily they are meditated on: the starry heavens above and the immortal soul within.
– Immanual Kant

The meaning I picked, the one that changed my life: overcome fear, behold wonder.
– Richard Bach

From wonder into wonder, existence opens. When men lack a sense of awe, there will be disaster.
– Lao Tzu

We buy books, we go to gyms, we expend a lot of brain power on trying to hold back time, when we should be celebrating the miracle of being here in this world.
– Paulo Coelho

This world, after all our science and sciences, is still a miracle; wonderful, inscrutable, magical and more, to whosoever will think of it.
– Thomas Carlyle

We must learn to acknowledge that the creation is full of mystery; we will never entirely understand it. We must abandon arrogance and stand in awe. We must recover the sense of the majesty of creation, and the ability to be worshipful in its presence. For I do not doubt that it is only on the condition of humility and reverence before the world that our species will be able to remain in it.
– Wendell Berry

Wonder rather than doubt is the root of knowledge.
– Abraham Heschel

Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton asked why.
– Bernard Baruch

Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.
– Greek proverb

If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life. And if that child is to keep alive an inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.
– Rachel Carson

7-25-11 Weekly Quotes [from E-Newsletter] Life Balance

Climb up on some hill at sunrise. Everybody needs perspective once in a while, and you’ll find it there.
– Robb Sagendorph

I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.
– John Muir

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.
– John Burroughs

That was the most peaceful half hour…I have ever spent…in my entire life.
– overheard from a man hiking down from Sentinel Dome in Yosemite National Park

As you sit on the hillside, or lie prone under the trees of the forest, or sprawl wet-legged by a mountain stream, the great door, that does not look like a door, opens.
– Stephen Graham

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
– Albert Einstein

One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.
– Williams Wordsworth

Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another,
– Juvenal

I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.
– Henry David Thoreau

Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.
– Rachel Carson

In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia.
– Charles A. Lindbergh

Great things are done when men and mountains meet.
This is not done by jostling in the street.
– William Blake

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
– Lao Tzu

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
– John Muir

To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.
– Jane Austen

If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice – for your soul is alive.
– Eleanora Duse

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church,
I keep it staying at Home –
With a bobolink for a Chorister,
And an orchard for a Dome.
– Emily Dickinson

I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.
– Frank Lloyd Wright

I thank you god for this most amazing day,
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees,
and for the blue dream of sky
and for everything which is natural,
which is infinite,
which is yes.
– e.e. cummings

8-1-11 Weekly Quotes: Reading: Gateway to Transformation

There is a temperate zone in the mind, between luxurious indolence and exacting work; and it is to this region, just between laziness and labor, that summer reading belongs.
– Henry Ward Beecher

We should read to give our souls a chance to luxuriate.
– Henry Miller

For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.
– Anne Lamott

Lord! When you sell a man a book you don’t sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue – you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night – there’s all heaven and earth in a book, a real book.
– Christopher Morley

A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy.
– Edward P. Morgan

How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.
– Henry David Thoreau

You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.
– James Baldwin

The wise man reads both books and life itself.
– Lin Yutang

Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures.
– Jessamyn West

Be as careful of the books you read as of the company you keep; for your habits and character will be as much influenced by the former as by the latter.
– Paxton Hood

Tis the good reader that makes the good book; in every book he finds passages which seem confidences or asides hidden from all else and unmistakenly meant for his ear; the profit of books is according to the sensibility of the reader; the profoundest thought or passion sleeps as in a mine, until it is discovered by an equal mind and heart.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have yet got ourselves.
– E.M. Forster

A good book should leave you…slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it.
– William Styron

It often requires more courage to read some books that it does to fight a battle.
– Sutton Elbert Griggs

Resolve to edge in a little reading every day if it is but a single sentence. If you gain fifteen minutes a day, it will make itself felt at the end of the year.
– Horace Mann

I knew a gentleman who was so good a manager of his time that he would not even lose that small portion of it which the calls of nature obliged him to pass in the necessary-house; but gradually went through all the Latin poets in those moments.
– Lord Chesterfield

To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.
– W. Somerset Maugham

I’ve never known any trouble that an hour’s reading didn’t assuage.
– Montesquieu

When I am attacked by gloomy thoughts, nothing helps me so much as running to my books. They quickly absorb me and banish the clouds from my mind.
– Michel de Montaigne

Reading – the best state yet to keep absolute loneliness at bay.
– William Styron

Books – the best antidote against the marsh- gas of boredom and vacuity.
– George Steiner

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.
– Charles W. Eliot

The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as is a hand has come out, and taken yours.
– Alan Bennett

Except a living man, there is nothing more wonderful than a book! A message to us from the dead, from human souls whom we never saw, who lived perhaps thousands of miles away, and yet these, on those little sheets of paper, speak to us, teach us, comfort us, open their hearts to us as brothers.
– Charles Kingsley

These books are not lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves. From each of them goes out its own voice…and just as the touch of a button on our set will fill the room with music, so by taking down one of these volumes and opening it, one can call into range the voice of a man far distant in time and space, and hear him speaking to us, mind to mind, heart to heart.
– Gilbert Highet

To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations – such is a pleasure beyond compare.
– Kenko Yoshida

I often derive a peculiar satisfaction in conversing with the ancient and the modern dead, who yet live and speak excellently in their works. My neighbors think me often alone, and yet at such times I am in company with more than five hundred mutes – each of whom, at my pleasure, communicates his ideas to me by dumb signs – quite as intelligently as any person living can do by uttering of words.
– Laurence Sterne

To read a book for the first time is to make an acquaintance with a new friend; to read it for a second time is to meet an old one.
– Chinese saying

“Tell me what you read and I’ll tell you who you are” is true enough, but I’d know you better if you told me what you re-read.
– Francois Mauriac

A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.
– Robertson Davies

When you re-read a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than was there before.
– Clifton Fadiman

Good, friends, good books, and a conscience at ease: this is the ideal life.
– Mark Twain

This nice and subtle happiness of reading, this joy not chilled by age, this polite and unpunished vice, this selfish, serene life-long intoxication.
– Logan Pearsall Smith

The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books.
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be –
I had a mother who read to me.
– Strickland Gillilan

TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they’ll have with twenty-six. Open your child’s imagination. Open a book.
– Author Unknown

This will never be a civilized country until we expend more money for books than we do for chewing gum.
– Elbert Hubbard

The smallest bookstore still contains more ideas of worth than have been presented in the entire history of television.
– Andrew Ross

Books had instant replay long before televised sports.
– Bern Williams

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.
– Groucho Marx

I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.
– Anna Quindlen

8-8-11 Weekly Quotes: Theater as Gateway to Transformation

[Inspired by a saturated weekend of provocative theater at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon. Particularly the play The African Company Presents Richard III. Based on an actual historical event: the staging of Shakespeare’s Richard III in 1821 by a theater company of free black actors in New York City. A daring claim to equality at a time in our nation’s history when slavery was the law of the South and hostility reigned in the north.]

What is it that drives artists to keep making their art in spite of antagonism, in the absence of creative acceptance? You have a society where it is all right to say certain things about what’s going on in the government or about some groups of people in the country. If you say it through theater or some other form of the arts, people become concerned, because the average person, the little person, can start to recognize what’s being said about what’s happening in society. And that’s scary. That is the reason why we as artists need to recognize how dangerous it is to do the kind of work we do.

The arts are part of our universal DNA. To say that an individual’s creative talents should not be recognized because he or she is not the right color, not socially connected not educated or financially solvent, not gender specific or thin enough, not wise enough or mentally competent, or not politically correct is a sin against humanity. We’re all artists to some greater or lesser degree. Art enriches our human spirit. To deny artistry is to deny humanity – and to deny a better world.
– Seret Scott, artistic director, The African Company Presents Richard III

Art is a staple, like bread or wine or a warm coat in winter. Man’s spirit grows hungry for art in the same way his stomach growls for food.
– Irving Stone

The nervous system of any age or any nation is its creative workers, its artists. And if that nervous system is profoundly disturbed by its environment, the work it produces will inescapably reflect the disturbances, sometimes obliquely, and sometimes with violent directness.
– Tennessee Williams

You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use the arts to see your soul.
– George Bernard Shaw

What if imagination and the arts are not frosting at all, but the fountainhead of human experience?
– Rollo May

The life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction in the life of a nation, is close to the center of a nation’s purpose-and is a test of the quality of the nation’s civilization.
– John F. Kennedy

8-15-11 Weekly Quotes: Hope as Gateway to Action

[I had breakfast last week with a wise friend, Richard Miller, developer of iRest Yoga Nidra, an evidenced-based practice of deep relaxation and meditative inquiry, now used in VA hospitals, military bases, hospitals and clinics, hospice, homeless shelters, community programs, and schools.

As we were leaving the café, I said, “I hope we can do this again soon.” Richard replied immediately, “Let’s not just hope; let’s do it!” This “essay” of quotes is offered in the hope (!) of evoking the energy needed for any doing.]

The capacity for hope is the most significant fact of life. It provides human beings with a sense of destination and the energy to get started.
– Norman Cousins

Hope is both the earliest and the most indispensable virtue inherent in the state of being alive. If life is to be sustained, hope must remain, even where confidence is wounded, trust impaired.
– Erik H. Erikson

The inability to open up to hope is what blocks trust, and blocked trust is the reason for blighted dreams. To sit patiently with a yearning that has not yet been fulfilled and to trust that, that fulfillment will come, is quite possibly one of the most powerful “magic skills” that human beings are capable of.
– Elizabeth Gilbert

You gotta have hope. Without hope life is meaningless. Without hope life is meaning less and less.
– Author Unknown

Hope is some extraordinary spiritual grace that God gives us to control our fears, not to oust them.
– Vincent McNabb

All it takes is one bloom of hope to make a spiritual garden.
– Terri Guillemets

Hope arouses, as nothing else can arouse, a passion for the possible.
– William Sloane Coffin

Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the actions stem the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living.
– Anais Nin

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
– Mary Oliver

The kind of spirituality I value is one in which you get great joy out of contributing to life, not just sitting and meditating, although meditation is certainly valuable. But from the meditation, from the resulting consciousness, I would like to see people in action creating the world that they want to live in.
– Marshall Rosenberg

An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.
– Buddha

You cannot change anything in your life by intention alone, which can become a watered-down occasional hope that you’ll get to tomorrow. Intention without action is useless.
– Caroline Myss

One act of beneficence, one act of real usefulness, is worth all the abstract sentiment in the world.
– Ann Radcliffe

It is the around-the-corner brand of hope that prompts people to action, while the distant hope acts as an opiate.
– Eric Hoffer

Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work.
– Rita Mae Brown

Greatness is not in where we stand, but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it – but sail we must and not drift, nor lie at anchor.
– Oliver Wendell Holmes

You can either take action, or you can hang back and hope for a miracle. Miracles are great, but they are so unpredictable.
– Peter Drucker

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
– Annie Dillard

Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.
– Lin Yutang

Not only is another world possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.
– Arundhati Roy

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places – and there are so many – where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.
– Howard Zinn

I have one life and one chance to make it count for something…I’m free to choose what that something is, and the something I’ve chosen is my faith. Now, my faith goes beyond theology and religion and requires considerable work and effort. My faith demands – this is not optional – my faith demands that I do whatever I can wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can with whatever I have, to try to make a difference.
– Jimmy Carter

I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
– Edward Everett Hale

Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.
– Bishop Desmond Tutu

Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.
– Vincent Van Gogh

We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once.
– Calvin Coolidge

Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself.
– Thomas Merton

Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good. Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.
– Vaclav Havel

Hope doesn’t come from calculating whether the good news is winning out over the bad. It’s simply a choice to take action.
– Anna Lappe

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: You don’t give up.
– Anne Lamott

Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, these ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
– Robert F. Kennedy

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.
– John Wesley

If I have been of service, if I have glimpsed more of the nature and essence of ultimate good, if I am inspired to reach wider horizons of thought and action, if I am at peace with myself, it has been a successful day.
– Alex Noble

8-22-11 Weekly Quotes: Writing: Gateway to Transformation

[E-Quotes on Writing Truth were posted last spring in the process of creating a full-on book proposal. I’ve now signed a contract with New World Library to write a full-on book – Bouncing Back: The Neuroscience of Resilience – within a year, to be published spring 2013. I’ve added a few quotes to the April 14, 2011 postings, but the truth of the originals remains true. Next week’s e-newsletter will preview some of the ideas and tools offered in the now-to-be-written book.]

If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.
– Toni Morrison

I want to write books that unlock the traffic jam in everybody’s head.
– John Updike

Writers…fashioning nets to sustain and support the reader as he falls helplessly through the chaos of his own existence.
– Fay Weldon

I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all.
– Richard Wright

Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.
– Ranier Maria Rilke

This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simply “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse.
– Ranier Maria Rilke

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.
– Isaac Asimov

Every word born of an inner necessity – writing must never be anything else.
– Etty Hillesum

No great art has ever been made without the artist having known danger. Surely all art is the result of one’s having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, where no one can go further.
– Ranier Maria Rilke

Our passions shape our books; repose writes them in the intervals.
– Marcel Proust

The most beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes.
– Andre Gide

The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone’s neurosis. We’d have a might dull literature if all the writers that came along were a bunch of happy chuckleheads.
– William Styron

One ought only to write when one leaves a piece of one’s own flesh in the inkpot, each time one dips one’s pen.
– Leo Tolstoy

Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.
– Gene Fowler

There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.
– Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith

Writers are not just people who sit down and write. They hazard themselves. Every time you compose a book, your composition of yourself is at stake.
– E. L. Doctorow

Do not assume that he who seeks to comfort you now lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good. His life may also have much sadness and difficulty, that remains far beyond yours. Were it otherwise, he would never have been able to find these words.
– Ranier Maria Rilke

A writer and nothing else: a man alone in a room with the English language, trying to get human feelings right.
– John K. Hutchens

A man will turn over half a library to make one book.
– Samuel Johnson

You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.
– Arthur Polotnik

The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium.
– Norbet Platt

There are thousands of thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up the pen and writes.
– William Makepeace Thackeray

What no wife of writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he’s staring out of the window.
– Burton Rascoe

The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.
– Agatha Christie

Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning: I wanted to know what I was going to say.
– Sharon O’Brien

The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you really want to say.
– Mark Twain

Sit down, and put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.
– Colette

He that uses many words for the explaining of any subject doth, like the cuttlefish, hide himself for the most part in his own ink.
– John Ray

The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof shit detector. This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have had it.
– Ernest Hemingway

The best style is the style you don’t notice. What is written should seem a happy accident.
– W. Somerset Maugham

When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing.
– Enrique Jardiel Poncela

Easy reading is damn hard writing.
– Nathaniel Hawthorne

Hard writing makes easy reading.
– Wallace Stegner

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.
– Anton Chekhov

Whether or not you write well, write bravely.
– Bill Stout

There is no royal path to good writing; and such paths as do exist do not lead through neat ciritical gardens, various as they are, but through the jungles of self, the world, and of craft. Talent is helpful in writing, but guts are absolutely necessary.
– Jessamyn West

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.
-Henry David Thoreau

Writing, I think, is not apart from living. Writing is a kind of double living. The writer experiences everything twice. Once in reality and once in that mirror which waits always before or behind.
– Catherine Drinker Brown

Words are but the vague shadows of the volumes we mean. Little audible links, they are, chaining together great inaudible feelings and purposes.
– Theodore Dreiser

Every creator painfully experiences the chasm between his inner vision and its ultimate expression. The chasm is never completely bridged. We all have the conviction, perhaps illusory, that we have much more to say than appears on the paper.
– Isaac Bashevis Singer

The writer writes in order to teach himself, to understand himself, to satisfy himself; the publishing of his ideas, though it brings gratification, is a curious anticlimax.
– Alfred Kazin

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, as if they were locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live your questions now. Perhaps then, some day far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
– Ranier Maria Rilke

If any man wish to write in a clear style, let him be first clear in his thoughts; if any would write in a noble style, let him first possess a noble soul.
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.
– William Wordsworth

For fun:

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.
– Mark Twain

Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
– author unknown

Do not put statements in the negative form.
And don’t start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never us a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
De-access euphemisms.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Last, but not least, avoid clichés like the plague.
– William Safire, “Great Rules of Writing”

9-05-11 Weekly Quotes: Work That Changes the World

   
[A reprise of favorites from 2008 and 2009 postings for Labor Day. Apropos of beginning to write the full manuscript of Bouncing Back over this Labor Day weekend.]
 
I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.– Helen Keller
 
Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.– Saint Augustine
 
The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.– author unknown
 
A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.– Albert Einstein
 
Without work, all life goes rotten. But when work is soulless, life stifles and dies.– Albert Camus
 
To find joy in work is to discover the fountain of youth.– Pearl S. Buck
 
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.– Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Invitation (excerpt)
 
There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium. It will be lost. The world will never have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how it compares to other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.– Martha Graham
 
Live your beliefs, and you can turn the world around.– Henry David Thoreau

9-12-11 Weekly Quotes: Tenth Anniversary of 9/11/01

[I spent much of 9/11/11 at a daylong at Spirit Rock Meditation Center commemorating the tenth anniversary of 9/11/01. In the larger context that any catastrophe, disaster, or tragedy can cause our hearts to contract in shock, fear, anger, hatred, or grief, Debra Chamberlain Taylor and Kim Rosen used meditation, poetry and music to cultivate the opening of the heart again into a wider and deeper compassion for the suffering and confusion so inherent in the human condition. Below are poems and quotes shared in a day devoted to cultivating The Heart That Holds It All, and poems and quotes the day reminded me of.]

Minds can hold only so much suffering; it’s the heart that can hold it all.– Stephen Levine

One cannot be deeply responsive to the world without being saddened very often.– Erich Fromm

Suffering alone cannot break the human spirit. Human sorrow is not a pathology; it is a poignant inheritance we share with all the family of the earth. In the face of whatever loss, illness, or harm we are given, we remain people of great courage, wisdom and healing.-Wayne Muller

Gratitude in our darkest times is more than a matter of remembering our blessings so we can hold the hard stuff in a bigger perspective. With understanding, we see that often it is the suffering itself that deepens us, maturing our perspective on life, making us more compassionate and wise than we would have been without it. How many times have we been inspired by those who embody a wisdom that could only come from dealing with adversity? And how many valuable lessons have we ourselves learned because life has given us unwanted challenges? With a grateful heart, we’re not only willing to face our difficulties, we can realize while we’re going through them that they are a part of our ripening into wisdom and nobility.– James Baraz

Considering the violence and conflict within families and between nations, some conclude that human nature is basically aggressive. Anger, violence and aggression certainly arise, but they are not part of our most basic underlying nature. Our deepest human nature is essentially compassionate and gentle.– H.H. the Dalai Lama

May your suffering open you to your true self and to your wholeness.– Debra Chamberlain Taylor

Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in the eyes of the Divine. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, nor more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed. …I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other.– Thomas Merton

Life is glorious, but life is also wretched. It is both. Appreciating the gloriousness inspires us, encourages us, cheers us up, gives us a bigger perspective, energizes us. We feel connected. But if that’s all that’s happening, we get arrogant and start to look down on others, and there is a sense of making ourselves a big deal and being really serious about it, wanting it to be like that forever. The gloriousness becomes tinged by craving and addiction.

On the other hand, wretchedness-life’s painful aspect—softens us up considerably. Knowing pain is a very important ingredient of being there for another person. When you are feeling a lot of grief, you can look right into somebody’s eyes because you feel you haven’t got anything to lose-you’re just there. The wretchedness humbles us and softens us, but if we were only wretched, we would all just go down the tubes. We’d be so depressed, discouraged, and hopeless that we wouldn’t have enough energy to eat an apple.

Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us. They go together.– Pema Chodron

Before you know what kindness really is
You must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
…all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.

….Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.– Naomi Shahib Nye, Kindness (excerpt)

Learn the alchemy
true human beings know.
The moment you accept
what troubles you’ve been given,
the door will open.
Welcome difficulty as a familiar comrade.
Joke with torment brought by the friend….
The hurt you embrace becomes joy….

…The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.– Rumi, Learn the Alchemy and The Guest House (excerpts)

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?– Kahlil Gibran

For Grief

When you lose someone you love,
Your life becomes strange,
The ground beneath you gets fragile,
Your thoughts make your eyes unsure;
And some dead echo drags your voice down
Where words have no confidence.

Your heart has grown heavy with loss;
And though this loss has wounded others too,
No one knows what has been taken from you
When the silence of absence deepens.

Flickers of guilt kindle regret
For all that was left unsaid or undone.

There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.

Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function well
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly with no warning,
You are ambushed by grief.

It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.

Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And, when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal
And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time.– John O’Donohue
To Bless the Space Between Us

[read at the vigil at Spirit Rock days after the events of the original 9/11.]

There is a brokenness out of which comes the unbroken,
A shatteredness out of which blooms the unshatterable.
There is sorrow beyond all grief which leads to joy,
And a fragility out of whose depths emerges strength.
There is a hollow space too vast for words
Through which we pass with each loss,
Out of whose darkness we are sanctioned into being.
There is a cry deeper than all sound
Whose serrated edges cut the heart as we break open
To the place inside which is unbreakable and whole,
While learninng to sing.– Rashani

9-19-11 Weekly Quotes: Learning to Find Ease in Risk

[what resonates in this new era of writing a book, learning to find ease in risk:]

For a New Beginning

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.– John O’Donohue
To Bless the Space Between Us

10-3-11 Weekly Quotes: Procrastination

[I’ve not suffered much procrastination (yet!) in the writing of the manuscript for Bouncing Back, but it’s worth keeping an eye on. These quotes follow naturally from last month’s e-newsletter on the somatic markers we experience every time we’re about to cross the threshold into something new. I also fully acknowledge here the power of being over doing to restore perspective and renew our souls. These quotes are offered in the spirit of yin-yang, both the being and the doing necessary to a fulfilled life.]

To think too long about doing a thing often becomes its undoing.– Eva Young

Not to decide is to decide.– Harvey Cox

When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that in itself is a choice.– William James

Nothing is so exhausting as indecision, and nothing so futile.– Bertrand Russell

Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.– William James

The dread of doing a task uses up more time and energy than doing the task itself.– Rita Emmett

Putting off an easy thing makes it hard. Putting off a hard thing makes it impossible.– George Claude Lorimer

No task is a long one but the task on which one dare not start. It becomes a nightmare.– Charles Baudelaire

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.– Seneca

A man who puts off work is always at hand-grips with ruin.– Hesiod

Every duty which is bidden to wait returns with seven fresh duties at its back.– Charles Kingsley

Procrastination is opportunity’s natural assassin.– Victor Kiam

Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.– Sydney Harris

He who postpones the hour of living is like the rustic who waits for the river to run out before he crosses.– Horace

Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not.– Thomas Huxley.

I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.– Pearl S. Buck

When there is a hill to climb, don’t think that waiting will make it smaller.– Author Unknown

Begin while others are procrastinating. Work while others are wishing.– William Arthur Ward

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.– Anne Frank

You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Think of all the years passed by in which you said to yourself, “I’ll do it tomorrow,” and how the gods have again and again granted you periods of grace of which you have not availed yourself. It is time to realize that you are a member of the Universe, that you are born of Nature itself, and to know that a limit has been set to your time. Use every moment wisely, to perceive your inner refulgence, or ’twill be gone and nevermore within your reach.– Marcus Aurelius

Procrastination is the thief of time.– Edward Young

Procrastination has been called a thief – the thief of time. I wish it were no worse than a thief. It is a murderer; and that which it kills is not time merely, but the immortal soul.– William Nevins

Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy.– Wayne Gretzky

You must not procrastinate. Rather, you should make preparations so that even if you did die tonight, you would have no regrets. If you develop an appreciation for the uncertainty and imminence of death, your sense of the importance of using your time wisely will get stronger and stronger.– HH the Dalai Lama

If we accept and internalize the fact of our own mortality, then, by definition, we have to deal with the essential questions of how we live and spend our allotted time. We have to stop procrastinating, pretending that we have forever to do what we want to do and be what we long to be.– Lama Surya Das

We must be diligent today. To wait until tomorrow is too late. Death comes unexpectedly. How can we bargain with it?– Buddha

Procrastination is the seed of self-destruction.– Matthew Burton

Delay is the deadliest form of denial.– C. Northcote Parkinson

Slaying the dragon of delay is no sport for the short-winded.– Sandra Day O’Connor

By one delay after another they spin out their whole lives, till there’s no more future left for them.– Robert L’Estrange

Days are lost lamenting over lost days.– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Time destroyed is suicide, where more than blood is spilt.– Edward Young

When you say, “Wait a moment,” you are bound by your karma; when you say, “Yes, I will,” you are free.– Shunryu Suzuki

The habit of always putting off an experience until you can afford it, or until the time is right, or until you know how to do it, it one of the greatest burglars of joy. Be deliberate, but once you’ve made up your mind, jump in.– Charles R. Swindoll

How soon “not now” becomes “never.”– Martin Luther

By the streets of “by and by” one arrives at the house of “never.”– Miguel de Cervantes

I’ve spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument, while the song I came to sing remains unsung.– Rabindranath Tagore

One of these days is none of these days.-Henri Tubach

Someday is not a day of the week.– Author unknown

Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.– Spanish proverb

He who puts off nothing till tomorrow has done a great deal.– Baltasar Graci

Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday.– Author unknown

Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.– Don Marquis

Procrastination if like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.– Christopher Parker

Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.– Abraham Lincoln

A year from now you may wish you had started today.– Karen Lamb

Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination. Never put off till tomorrow what you can to today.– Lord Chesterfield

Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today, because if you enjoy it today, you can do it again tomorrow.– James A. Michener

Anger is the only thing to put off til tomorrow.– Slovakian proverb

Everything in human character goes to wreck, under the reign of procrastination, while prompt action gives to all things a corresponding and proportional life and energy.– William A. Alcott

Well-arranged time is the surest mark of a well-arranged mind.– Sir Isaac Pitman

Until you value yourself, you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.– M. Scott Peck

Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for time is the stuff life is made of.– Benjamin Franklin

Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its brevity.– Jean de La Bruyere

Time wasted is existence. Time used is life.– Edward Young

What will you do with your one wild and precious life?– Mary Oliver

10-10-11 Weekly Quotes: Falling into Autumn

October is a symphony of permanence and change.– Bonaro W. Overstreet

Summer ends, and Autumn comes, and he who would have it otherwise would have high tide always– and a full moon every night.– Hal Borland

Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.– William Cullen Bryant

Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting, and autumn a mosaic of them all.– Stanley Horowitz

Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence. Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance. Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence. Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.– Yoko Ono

If winter is slumber, and spring is birth, and summer is life, than autumn rounds out to be reflection. It’s a time of year when the leaves are down, the harvest is in, the perennials are gone. Mother Earth just closed up the drapes on another year, and it’s time to reflect on what’s come before.– Mitchell Burgess

Autumn wins you best by this: its mute appeal to sympathy for its decay.– Robert Browning

How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.– John Burroughs

It is customary to understand autumn as synchronous with old age. In the autumn-time of your life, your experience is harvested. Within the harvest circle, you are able to gather lost moments and experiences, bring them together, and hold them as one. If you can come to aging as the harvest of your soul, you will learn that aging can be a time of great strength, poise, and confidence. To understand the harvest of your soul against the background of seasonal rhythm should give you a sense of quiet delight at the arrival of this time in your life. It should give you a strength and a sense of how the deeper belonging of your soul will be revealed to you.– John O’Donohue, Anam Cara

Youth is like spring, an over-praised season more remarkable for biting winds than genial breezes. Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers, we more than gain in fruits.– Samuel Butler

In the garden, Autumn is, indeed the crowning glory of the year, bringing us the fruition of months of thought and care and toil.– Rose Kingsley

Gardening imparts an organic perspective on the passage of time.– William Cowper

Autumn is the eternal corrective. It is ripeness and color and a time of maturity; but it is also breadth, and depth, and distance. What man can stand with autumn on a hilltop and fail to see the span of this world and the meaning of the rolling hills that reach to the far horizon?– Hal Borland

10-17-11 Weekly Quotes: No More Floating Clouds

The Navajos have a wonderful term for a great realization or insight that is not sustained: they call it a floating cloud. It’s just there. It’s beautiful in its shape and we describe it and we talk about it – and then it dissipates because it hasn’t been mobilized or grounded or sustained. We’re generating lots of floating clouds. We need to ground our ideas so that they can change the world. Nothing changes unless it’s grounded and it’s manifested.– Angeles Arrien

The world we are experiencing today is the result of our collective consciousness, and if we want a new world, each of us must start taking responsibility for helping create it.– Rosemary Fillmore Rhea

If humankind would accept and acknowledge this responsibility and become creatively engaged in the process of evolution, consciously as well as unconsciously, a new reality would emerge, and a new age could be born.– Jonas Salk

Every single one of us can do something, however small, to make a difference.– Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Every moment brings a choice; every choice has an impact.– Julia Butterfly Hill

What we need is what the ancient Israelites called hochma – the science of the heart…the capacity to see, to feel, and then to act as if the future depended on you. Believe me, it does.– Bill Moyers

The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.– Mohandis K. Gandhi

You don’t need to do everything. Do what calls your heart; effective action comes from love. It is unstoppable, and it is enough.– Joanna Macy

I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.– Helen Keller

The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble.– Blaise Pascal

You just need to be a flea against injustice. Enough committed fleas biting strategically can make even the biggest dog uncomfortable and transform even the biggest nation.– Marian Wright Edelman

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.– The Talmud

It is I Who Must Begin

It is I who must begin.
Once I begin, once I try –
here and now,
right where I am,
not excusing myself
by saying things
would be easier elsewhere,
without grand speeches and
ostentatious gestures,
but all the more persistently
–to live in harmony
with the “voice of Being,” as I
understand it within myself
–as soon as I begin that,
I suddenly discover,
to my surprise, that
I am neither the only one,
nor the first,
not the most important one
to have set out upon that road.

Whether all is really lost
or not depends entirely on
whether or not I am lost.– Vaclav Havel

10-31-11 Weekly Quotes: The Poetic Wisdom of Rabindranth Tagore

[Rabindranath Tagore, beloved poet and musician of India, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. One hundred years later, his poetric sensibilities, from a different time, culture, and spiritual tradition, still sitr the soul and soothe the heart today. Take your time with these offerings from Gitanjali and Fireflies; they can carry you all the way home.]

I thought that my voyage had come to its end
at the last limit of my powr;
that the path before me was closed,
that provisions were exhausted
and the time come to take shelter
in a silent obscurity.

But I find that thy will knows no end in me.
And when old words die out on the tongue
new melodies break forth from the heart;
and where the old tracks are lost,
new country is revealed with its wonders.

* * * * *

God honors me when I work, He loves me when I sing.

I touch God in my song as the hill touches the far-away sea with its waterfall.

* * * * *

The same stream of life
that runs through my veins night and day
runs through the worlds
and dances in rhythmic measures.

It is the same life that shoots in joy
through the dust of the earth
in numberless blades of grass
and breaks into tumultuous waves
of leaves and flowers.

It is the same life
that is rocked in the ocean-cradle
of birth and of death, in ebb and in flow.

I feel my limbs are made glorious
by the touch of this world of life.
And my pride is from the life-throb of ages
dancing in my blood this moment.

* * * * *

The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.

From the solemn gloom of the temple children run out to sit in the dust, God watches them play and forgets the priest.

* * * * *

Thou hast made me know to friends whom I knew not.
Thou hast given me seats in homes not my own.
Thou hast brought the distant near
and made a brother of the stranger.

I am uneasy at heart
when I have to leave my accustomed shelter;
I forget that there abides the old in the new,
and that there also thou abidest.

Through birth and death, in this world or in others,
wherever thou leadest me it is thou, the same,
the one companion of my endless life
who ever linkest my heart with bonds of joy
to the unfamiliar.

When one knows thee,
then alien there is none, then no door is shut.
Oh, grant me my prayer
that I may never lose the bliss
of the touch of the one
in the play of the many.

* * * * *

Let my love, like sunlight, surround you, yet give you illumined freedom.

* * * * *

In the night of weariness
let me give myself up to sleep without struggle,
resting my trust upon thee.

Let me not force my flagging spirit
into a poor preparation for thy worship.

It is thou who drawest the veil of night
upon the tired eyes of the day
to renew it sight in a fresher gladness of awakening.

* * * * *

I slept and dreamed that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and, behold, service was joy.

* * * * *

Peace, my heart.
Let the time for parting be sweet.
Let it not be a death, but completeness.
Let love melt into memory
And pain into song.
Let the flight through the sky end
In the folding of the wings over the nest.
Let the last touch of your hands
Be gentle like the flower of the night.
Stand still, oh beautiful end, for a moment,
And say your last words in silence.
I bow to you and hold up my lamp
To light you on your way.

* * * * *

True end is not in the reaching of the limit,
but in a completion which is limitless.

* * * * *

Where the mind is without fear
and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up
into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches it arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason
has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee
into ever-widening thought and action –
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

* * * * *

While God waits for His temple to be built of love, men bring stones.

He who does good comes to the temple gate, he who loves reaches the shrine.

He who is too busy doing good finds no time to be good.

* * * * *

I ask for a moment’s indulgence to sit by thy side.
The works that I have in hand I will finish afterwards.

Away from the sight of thy face
my heart knows no rest nor respite,
and my work becomes an endless toil
in a shoreless sea of toil.

Today the summer has come at my window
with its sighs and murmurs;
and the bees are plying their minstrelsy
at the court of the flowering grove.

Now it is time to sit quiet,
face to face with thee,
and to sing dedication of life
in this silent and overflowing leisure.

11-7-11 Weekly Quotes: Resilience

One of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes cartoons is an inspiring moment when Calvin trips and falls down the stairs, lands in a heap at the bottom, dazed and confused. Then he stands himself up again, throws his arms up in the air as though welcoming applause, and says, “Ta da!”

Having had a few of those tumbles myself in the last few weeks, and now thoroughly immersed in the writing of Bouncing Back: The Neuroscience of Resilience, I’m deepening my explorations into seeing the AFGO – Another Fricking Growth Opportunity – in what appears to be a disastrous turn of events, turning those mis-steps into mastery. (Or mystery!) Hence these offerings on Resilience:

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.– Confucius

Fall seven times, stand up eight.– Japanese proverb

Life only demands from you the strength you possess. Only one feat is possible – not to have run away.– Dag Hammarskjold

Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is meant to grow strong by challenge.– William Ellery Channing

The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.– Chinese proverb

Mastering the art of resilience does much more than restore you to who you once thought you were. Rather, you emerge from the experience transformed into a truer expression of who you were really meant to be.– Carol Osborn

Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.– Anais Nin

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.– Charles Darwin

Resilience is having the capacity to change before the case for change becomes desperately obvious.– Gary Hamel

The Buddhist teachings are fabulous at simply working with what’s happening as your path of awakening, rather than treating your life experiences as some kind of deviation from what is supposed to be happening. The more difficulties you have, in fact, the greater opportunity there is to let them transform you. The difficult things provoke all your irritations and bring your habitual patterns to the surface. And that becomes the moment of truth. You have the choice to launch into the lousy habitual patterns you already have, or to stay with the rawness and discomfort of the situation and let it transform you, on the spot.– Pema Chodron

The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only is such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.– M. Scott Peck

We all accept that no one controls the weather. Good sailors learn to read it carefully and respect its power. They will avoid storms if possible, but then caught in one, they know when to take down the sails, batten down the hatches, drop anchor and ride things out, controlling what is controllable and letting go of the rest. Training, practice, and a lot of firsthand experience in all sorts of weather are required to develop such skills so that they work for you when you need them. Developing skill in facing and effectively handling the various “weather conditions” in your life is what we mean by the art of conscious living.– Jon Kabat-Zinn

Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.– African proverb

I’m no longer afraid of storms, for I’ve learned to sail my ship.– Louise May Alcott

11-14-11 Weekly Quotes: Hearth and Home

[As the winter weather tucks us indoors, may the deepest joys of hearth and home be yours.]

Home is not where you live, but where they understand you.– Christian Morgenstern

Where we love is home,
Home that our feet may leave,
But not our hearts.– Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.– Charles Dickens

The light is what guides you home; the warmth is what keeps you there.– Ellie Rodriguez

Home is the one place in all this world where hearts are sure of each other. It is the place of confidence. It is the place where we tear off that mask of guarded and suspicious coldness which the world forces us to wear in self-defense, and where we pour out the unreserved communications of full and confiding hearts. It is the spot where expressions of tenderness gush out without any sensation of awkwardness and without any dread of ridicule.– Frederick W. Robertson

Home is a place not only of strong affections, but of entire unreserve; it is life’s undress rehearsal, its backroom, its dressing room.– Harriet Beecher Stowe

Home is the place where,
When you have to go there,
They have to take you in.– Robert Frost

I had rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world.– George Washington

A house that does not have one worn, comfy chair in it, is soulless.– May Sarton

May this house shelter your life.
When you come in home here,
May all the weight of the world
Fall from your shoulders.

May your heart be tranquil here,
Blessed by the peace the world cannot give.

May this home be a lucky place,
Where the graces your life desires
Always find the pathway to your door.

May nothing destructive
Ever cross your threshold.

May this be a safe place
Full of understanding and acceptance,
Where you can be as you are,
Without the need of any mask
Or pretense or image.

May this home be a place of discovery,
Where the possibilities that sleep
In the clay of your soul can emerge
To deepen and refine your vision
For all that is yet to come to birth.

May it be a house of courage,
Where healing and growth are loved,
Where dignity and forgiveness prevail’
A home where patience of spirit is prized,
And the sight of the destination is never lost
Thought the journey be difficult and slow.
May there be great delight around this hearth.
May it be a house of welcome
For the broken and diminished.

May you have the eyes to see
That no visitor arrives without a gift
And no guest leaves without a blessing.– John O’Donohue
To Bless the Space Between Us

11-28-11 Weekly Quotes: Homage to Beauty

[The late burst of fall colors on my tree-lined street has blown my mind and heart wide open. Such stunning beauty. Such inexplicable mystery. An homage to the transformation of awareness available any time we take a moment to notice.]

The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.– Henry Miller

For lack of attention, a thousand forms of loveliness elude us every day.– Evelyn Underhill

One summer night, out on a flat headland, all but surrounded by the waters of the bay, the horizons were remote and distant rims on the edge of space. Millions of stars blazed in darkness, and on the far shore a few lights burned in cottages. Otherwise there was no reminder of human life. My compassion and I were alone with the stars: the misty river of the Milky Way flowing across the sky, the patterns of the constellations standing out bright and clear, a blazing planet low on the horizon. It occurred to me that if this were a sight that could be seen only once in a century, this little headland would be thronged with spectators. But it can be seen many scores of night in any year, and so the lights burned in the cottages and the inhabitants probably gave not a thought to the beauty overhead; and because they could see it almost any night, perhaps they never will.– Rachel Carson

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it. We don’t have to travel far away to enjoy the blue sky. We don’t have to leave our city or even our neighborhood to enjoy the eyes of a beautiful child. Even the air we breathe can be a source of joy.– Thich Nhat Hanh

Looking for and enjoying beauty is a way to nourish the soul. The universe is in the habit of making beauty. There are flowers and songs, snowflakes and smiles, acts of great courage, laughter between friends, a job well done, the smell of fresh-baked bread. Beauty is everywhere.– Matthew Fox

Winter Solstice

Perhaps for a moment
the typewriters will stop clicking,
the wheels stop rolling,
the computers desist from computing,
and a hush will fall
over the city.

For an instant, in the stillness,
the chiming of the celestial spheres
will be heard as earth hangs
in the crystalline darkness,
and then gracefully tilts.

Let there be a season
when holiness is heard,
and the splendor of living is revealed.

Stunned to stillness by beauty
we remember who we are
and why we are here….– Rebecca Parker

I sit in my garden, gazing upon a beauty that cannot gaze upon itself. And I find sufficient purpose for my day.– Robert Brault

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.– John Muir

A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.– Dead Poet’s Society

Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage then to claim it; that is all! But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending through unknown country home.– Fra Giovanni

Spirituality exists wherever we struggle with the issue of how our lives fit into the greater cosmic scheme of things. This is true even when our questions never give way to specific answers or give rise to specific practices such as prayer or meditation. We encounter spiritual issues every time we wonder where the universe comes from, why we are here, or what happens when we die. We also become spiritual when we become moved by values such as beauty, love or creativity that seem to reveal a meaning or power beyond our visible world. An idea or practice is “spiritual” when it reveals our personal desire to establish a felt relationship with the deepest meanings or powers governing life.– Robert C. Fuller

The ideals which have lighted me on my way and time after time given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Truth, Goodness and Beauty.– Albert Einstein

Truth, and goodness, and beauty are but different faces of the same all.– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let the beauty we love become the good we do.– Rumi

It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know of wonder and humility. Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.– Rachel Carson

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.– Albert Einstein

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.– Albert Einstein

12-5-11 Weekly Quotes: Pursuing Happiness…Being Happy

Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.– Guillaume Apollinaire

Be happy. It’s one way of being wise.– Colette

If only we’d stop trying to be happy, we could have a pretty good time.– Edith Wharton

I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.– E. B. White

If you want to be happy, be.– Leo Tolstoy

Even though in principle we may “know better”, we routinely succumb all the same to the incessant, often frantic and unexamined busyness of thinking we have to get somewhere else first before we can rest; thinking we need to get certain things done to feel we have accomplished something before we can be happy.– Jon Kabat-Zinn

The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness.– Eric Hoffer

Unhappiness in not knowing what we want and killing ourselves to get it.– Don Herold

The world is full of people looking for spectacular happiness while they snub contentment.– Doug Larson

My crown is called content, a crown that seldom kings enjoy.– William Shakespeare

My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it’s on your plate.– Thornton Wilder

By engaging in a delusive quest for happiness, we bring only suffering upon ourselves. In our frantic search for something to quench our thirst, we overlook the water all around us and drive ourselves into exile from our own lives.– Sharon Salzberg

If you are not happy here and now, you never will be.– Taisen Deshimaru

We can travel a long way and do many things, but our deepest happiness is not born from accumulating new experiences. It is born from letting go of what is unnecessary, and knowing ourselves to be always at home.– Sharon Salzberg

The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet.– James Openheim

Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.– Nathaniel Hawthorne

If you search the world for happiness, you may find it in the end, for the world is round and will lead you back to your own door.– Robert Brault

If you ever find happiness by hunting for it, you will find it, as the old woman did her lost spectacles, safe on her own nose all the time.– Josh Billings

How simple it is to see that we can only be happy now, and there will never be a time when it is not now.– Gerald Jampolsky

Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn, or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.– Denis Waitley

Happiness is a direction, not a place.– Sydney J. Harris

Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.– Margaret Lee Runbeck

Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn’t stop to enjoy it.– William Feather

Happiness is not so much in having as in sharing. We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.– Winston Churchill

Happiness held is the seed; happiness shared is the flower.– Author Unknown

Thousand of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.– Buddha

All who find happiness in this world have done so by wishing for the happiness of many others. All who find unhappiness in this world have done so by aiming just for their own happiness.– Shantideva

The basic thing is that everyone wants happiness, no one wants suffering. And happiness mainly comes from our own attitude, rather than from external factors. If our own mental attitude is correct, even if you remain in a hostile atmosphere, you feel happy.– Tenzin Ghyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

The greatest part of our happiness depends on our dispositions, not our circumstances.– Martha Washington

A man’s as miserable as he thinks he is.– Seneca

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.– Abraham Lincoln

But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?– Albert Camus

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.– Mahatma Gandhi

There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do.– Freya Stark

Happiness comes when your work and words are of benefit to yourself and others.– Buddha

What we call the secret of happiness is no more a secret than our willingness to choose life.– Leo Buscaglia

I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be “happy.” I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all, to matter and to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.– Leo C. Rosten

What is the meaning of life? To be happy and useful.– Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lam

If you observe a really happy man, you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing double dahlias in his garden, or looking for dinosaur eggs in the Gobi desert. He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar button that has rolled under the radiator. He will not be striving for it a s a goal in itself. He will have become aware that he is happy in the course of living life twenty-four purposeful hours of the day.– W. Beran Wolfe

Many people have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.– Helen Keller

Joy can be real only if people look upon their life as a service, and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness.– Leo Tolstoy

I don’t know what our destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.– Albert Schweitzer

That is happiness; to be dissolved into something completely great.– Willa Cather

12-12-11 Weekly Quotes: Charity and Cherishing

[inspired by the wisdom of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, reminding us again of the power of love and generosity to transform lives.]

There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread, but there are many more dying for a little love. I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.– Mother Teresa

If you have much, give of your wealth; if you have little, give of your heart.– Arabian proverb

You may not have saved a lot of money in your life, but if you have saved a lot of heartaches for other folks, you are a pretty rich man.– Seth Parker

The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all people, charity.– Francis Maitland Balfour

If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give.– George MacDonald

Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth,
“You owe me.”
Look what happens
With a love like that –
It lights the whole world.– Hafiz

You must give some time to your fellow men. Even if it’s a little thing, do something for others – something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it.– Albert Schweitzer

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.– Winston Churchill

In the act of giving lies the expression of my aliveness.– Erich Fromm

The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.– Nelson Henderson

In giving you are throwing a bridge across the chasm of your solitude.– Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Sometimes a man imagines that he will lose himself if he gives himself, and keep himself if he hides himself. But the contrary takes place with terrible exactitude.– Ernest Hello

The only gift is a portion of thyself.– Ralph Waldo Emerson

You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that your truly give.

There are those who give little of the much which they have – and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.

And there are those who have little and give it all. These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.

And is there aught you would withhold?
All you have shall someday be given;
Therefore give now, that the season of giving
May be yours and not your inheritors’.

In truth it is life that gives unto life
While you, who deem yourself a giver,
Are but a witness.

You often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.”
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Suerly he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights
Is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life
deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.– Kahlil Gibran
The Prophet, excerpt on Giving

The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.– Benjamin Disraeli

I’ve seen and met angels wearing the disguise of ordinary people living ordinary lives.– Tracy Chapman

I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.– Edward Everett Hale

Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You’ don’t’ have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve…You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.– William James

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.– Mother Teresa

Sometime in your life, hope that you might see one starved man, the look on his face when the bread finally arrives. Hope that you might have bought it or baked it or even kneaded it yourself. For that look on his face, for your meeting his eyes across a piece of bread, you might be willing to lose a lot, or suffer a look, or die a little, even.– Daniel Berrigan

Bread for myself is a material question. Bread for my neighbor is a spiritual one.– Nicholas Berdyaev

If you haven’t any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.– Bob Hope

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.– Dr. Seuss

I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep. There is nothing I can give you which you have not. But there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take. No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take heaven! No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant.

Take peace! The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. There is radiance and glory in darkness, could we but see. And to see, we have only to look. I beseech you to look!

Life is so generous a giver. But we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love by wisdom, with power. Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel’s hand that brings it to you.

Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty, believe me, that angel’s hand is there. The gift is there and the wonder of an overshadowing presence. Your joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage then to claim it; that is all! But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending through unknown country home.– Fra Giovanni

12-26-11 Weekly Quotes: Fra Giovanni’s Christmas Eve Letter

[Fra Giovanni Giocondo (c.1435-1515) was a Renaissance pioneer, accomplished as an architect, engineer, antiquary, archaeologist, classical scholar, and Franciscan friar. Today we remember him most for his reassuring letter to Countess Allagia Aldobrandeschi on Christmas Eve, 1513.]

I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep. There is nothing I can give you which you have not. But there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take. No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take heaven! No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant.

Take peace! The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. There is radiance and glory in darkness, could we but see. And to see, we have only to look. I beseech you to look!

Life is so generous a giver. But we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love by wisdom, with power. Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel’s hand that brings it to you.

Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty, believe me, that angel’s hand is there. The gift is there and the wonder of an overshadowing presence. Your joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage then to claim it; that is all! But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending through unknown country home.– Fra Giovanni Giocondo