Weekly Quotes 2013

Weekly Quotes 2013

1-1-13 Weekly Quotes: Prayer for a New Year

Prayer for a New Year

May you awaken to new beginnings
With an openness of heart
And a quickening of soul.

May you step wholeheartedly into this new year,
To appreciate its abundant sweetness and
To embrace in faith its certain sadness.
May you re-awaken hopes and dreams which
Stretch your creative spirit to give them
Life and substance.

May you be for others:
A herald of change,
A respecter of fears;
A softener of hard edges;
A co-creator of yet-to-be-known meanings;
A midwife to healing;

May you discover for you Self:
The deepest truth of your deepest nature;
A resting in goodness;
An abiding with a peaceful heart;
A living into wholeness.

– Linda Graham

1-7-13 Weekly Quotes: Following Up on Taking the Leap

[Following up on the December 2012 e-newsletter Taking the Leap:]

You are closer to your glory leaping an abyss than re-upholstering your rut.– James Broughton

Words of wisdom to inspire us, if we are flagging in our new year’s intentions to live wisely and fully…]

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.– Howard Thurman

Nothing else matters much – not wealth, nor learning, nor even health – without this gift: the spiritual capacity to keep zest in living. This is the creed of creeds, the final deposit and distillation of all important faiths: that you should be able to believe in life.– Harry Emerson Fosdick

Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best.– Theodore Rubin

A man may fulfill the object of his existence by asking a question he cannot answer, and attempting a task he cannot achieve.– Oliver Wendell Holmes

Boredom is the conviction that you can’t change….the shriek of unused capacities.– Saul Bellow

The happiness that is genuinely satisfying is accompanied by the fullest exercise of our faculties and the fullest realization of the world in which we live.– Bertrand Russell

The desire to do something because you find it deeply satisfying and personally challenging inspires the highest levels of creativity, whether it’s in the arts, the sciences, or business.– Teresa Amabile

One of most powerful wellsprings of creative energy, outstanding accomplishment, and self-fulfillment seems to be falling in love with something – your dreams, your image of the future.– E. Paul Torrance

A labor of love is exalted because it provides joy and self-expression to those who perform it.– Dennis Kimbro

There are certain things that are fundamental to human fulfillment. The essence of these needs is captured in the phrase ‘to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy.’ The need to leave a legacy is our spiritual need to have a sense of meaning, purpose, personal congruence, and contribution.– Steven R. Covey

Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.– Viktor Frankl

The purpose of life is not to be happy – but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you have lived at all.– Leo Rosten

May you live all the days of your life.– Jonathan Swift

1-14-13 Weekly Quotes: Rest and Renewal

[As we settle into a new year, in most parts of the country we are also settling deeper into winter, a time of dormancy and replenishment, a “down-time” of rest and renewal.]

It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?– Henry David Thoreau

There is more to life than merely increasing its speed.-Mohandis K. Gandhi

In the relentless busyness of modern life, we have lost the rhythm between work and rest….

All life requires a rhythm of rest. There is a rhythm in our waking activity and the body’s need for sleep. There is a rhythm in the way day dissolves into night, and night into morning. There is a rhythm as the active growth of spring and summer is quieted by the necessary dormancy of fall and winter. There is a tidal rhythm, a deep, eternal conversation between the land and the great sea. In our bodies, the heart perceptibly rests after each life-giving beat; the lungs rest between the exhale and the inhale….

We have lost this essential rhythm. Our culture invariably supposes that action and accomplishment are better than rest, that doing something – anything – is better than doing nothing. Because of our desire to succeed, to meet these ever-growing expectations, we do not rest. Because we do not rest, we lose our way. We miss the compass points that would show us where to go, we bypass the nourishment that would give us succor. We mist the quiet that would give us wisdom. We miss the joy and love born of effortless delight. Poisoned by this hypnotic belief that good things come only through unceasing determination and tireless effort, we can never truly rest. And for want of rest, our lives are in danger….

Even when our intentions are noble and our efforts sincere, even when we dedicate our lives to the service of others, the corrosive pressure of frantic over-activity can nonetheless cause suffering in ourselves and others. A “successful” life can become a violent enterprise.– Wayne Muller, Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in Our Busy Lives

Non-doing has nothing to do with being indolent or passive. Quite the contrary. It takes great courage and energy to cultivate non-doing, both in stillness and in activity. Nor is it easy to make a special time for non-doing and to keep at it in the face of everything in our lives which needs to be done.– Jon Kabat-Zinn

A quiet mind is all you need. All else will happen rightly, once your mind is quiet. As the sun on rising makes the world active, so does self-awareness affect changes in the mind. In the light of calm and steady self-awareness, inner energies wake up and work miracles without any effort on your part.– Nisargadatta Maharaj

When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world. Your innermost sense of self, of who you are, is inseparable from stillness. This is the I AM that is deeper than name and form. You are the knowing, not the condition that is known.– Eckhart Tolle

There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken in the race of days….
Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.– John O’Donohue,
To Bless the Space Between Us

Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
To recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

Anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

Is too small for you.– David Whyte
The House of Belonging

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

1-28-13 Weekly Quotes: True Refuge

[These quotes are all from Tara Brach’s new book True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart. May they, and the deep wisdom of her teachings, help you heal and awaken into aliveness and wholeness.]

Is there anything I can do to make myself enlightened?
As little as you can do to make the sun rise in the morning.
Then of what use are the spiritual exercises you prescribe?
To make sure you are not asleep when the sun begins to rise.– Anthony de Mello

Sometimes you hear a voice through the door calling you,
As a fish out of water hears the waves….Come back. Come back.
This turning toward what you deeply love saves you.– Rumi

There is a place in the heart where everything meets.
Go there if you want to find me.
Mind, senses, soul, eternity, all are there.
Are you there?
Enter the bowl of vastness that is the heart.
Give yourself to it with total abandon….
Once you know the way
The nature of attention will call you
To return, again and again,
And be saturated with knowing,
“I belong here, I am at home here.”– Radiance sutras, tr. Lorin Roche

I want to unfold.
Let no place in me hold itself closed,
For where I am closed, I am false.– Ranier Maria Rilke

Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.
Flow down and down in always
Widening rings of being.– Rumi

All you ever longed for is
Before you in this moment
If you dare draw in a
Breath and whisper “Yes.”

Trust the energy that
Courses through you. Trust
Then take surrender even deeper. Be the energy.
Don’t push anything away. Follow each
Sensation back to its source
In vastness and pure presence.– Danna Faulds

I wish I could show you
When you are lonely or in darkness,
The astonishing light
Of your own Being!– Hafiz, tr. Daniel Ladinsky

In the name of daybreak
And the eyelids of morning
And the wayfaring moon
And the night when it departs,

I swear I will not dishonor m
My soul with hatred,
But offer myself humbly
As a guardian of nature,
As a healer of misery,
As a messenger of wonder,
As an architect of peace.

In the name of the sun and its mirrors…
And the uttermost night…
And the crowning seasons
Of the firefly and the apple,

I will honor all life
-wherever and in whatever form
It may dwell – on Earth my home,
And in the mansions of the stars.– Diane Ackerman, “School Prayer”

2-4-13 Weekly Quotes: Enthusiasm

[I’ve posted many weekly quotes (five years now) about qualities that support resilience: calm, compassion, clarity, connections, competence, courage. Riding the waves of the birthing of the book, surely enthusiasm is among them.]

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.– Howard Thurman

The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.– Marshal Ferdinand Foch

Apathy can be overcome by enthusiasm, and enthusiasm can only be aroused by two things: first, an ideal, which takes the imagination by storm, and second, a definite intelligible plan for carrying that ideal into practice.– Arnold Toynbee

Success is not final; failure is not fatal. Success is moving from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm. It is the courage to continue that counts.– Winston Churchill

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

Seek patience and passion in equal amounts. Patience alone will not build the temple. Passion alone will destroy its walls.– Maya Angelou

Conscience is doubtless sufficient to conduct the coldest character into the road of virtue; but enthusiasm is to conscience what honor is to duty; there is in us a superfluity of soul, which it is sweet to consecrate to the beautiful when the good has been accomplished.– Madame de Stael

But I know also that still more interesting discoveries will be made that I have not the imagination to describe – and I am awaiting them, full of curiosity and enthusiasm.– Linus Pauling

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.– Alan Watts

To change one’s life:
1. Start immediately.
2. Do it flamboyantly.
3. No exceptions.
– William James

2-18-13 Weekly Quotes: Willpower: It’s Not What You MIght Expect

[These quotes are culled from the transcript of a NICABM webinar with Kelly McGonigal, PhD, author of The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It. From the research of this health psychologist at Stanford University and yoga/meditation teacher, willpower is not what you might expect.]

Willpower is best thought of as a quality or strength that you can train or even a mode of the brain that you can shift into at will.

Willpower is about doing the things that matter most to us, even when they’re difficult. It’s what gives us the ability to find our strength and our courage when we’re feeling stressed out or anxious or overwhelmed.

Action is what changes feelings. If you allow yourself to take even baby step actions in a certain direction, you’ll find that courage will rise to meet whatever fear was initially present or willingness will arise, where before there was total resistance.

*   *   *   *   *

Of anything that you could do to change your brain – to train your brain and to reduce stress – and be better able to have willpower – exercise is the activity. The brain experiences exercise as a very specific kind of stress. The brain will adapt to this particular metabolic stress of exercise by increasing chemicals – brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which helps the brain learn from experience and increases connections between brain cells. BDNF tends to improve the metabolism of the brain and how the brain uses energy in the same way that cardiovascular exercise improves the way cells in the rest of your body use energy.

*   *   *   *   *

Secure attachment is about having a stable base to explore and to fail in. A secure attachment improves our ability to handle setbacks. We can have some sense of basic safety and that we’ll not be turned on for failing to live up to some expectation It is a foundation for willpower. We need to look at self-compassion for adults in the same way: we can be that caring person to ourselves. There’s some basic level of security that you won’t turn on yourself either. That allows you to then do things that are more difficult and take greater risks and have more resilience.

When we are well connected to our social tribe, we also end up having more willpower. The systems in the brain that are important for willpower are very similar to the systems for social engagement. When we talk about evolution, as a human species we need the ability to share and cooperate. Willpower is very much a social strength.

*   *   *   *   *

With meditation, you’re choosing to focus your attention on the breath just by sitting still, noticing that you’re breathing and noticing that when your mind wanders, which of course it will, it’s not a problem at all. You’re noticing that your mind wanders and comes back to the breath.

Focused meditation basically engages every system in the brain that we talk about for willpower: having a goal, paying attention to what is happening in your mind and body and what’s moving away from that goal, and then coming back to it. For the purpose of meditation for brain training, if fact it’s better if you’re bad at meditation! You need your mind to wander for it to work. You have to have the mind be distracted by thinking about the past or the future. You have to find yourself fidgeting around and wanting to stop, because otherwise you don’t get to train the I Will and the I Won’t side of willpower. You have to notice that you’re finding yourself getting sleepy or fidgeting and then find a way to stay still to inhibit those impulses from getting up and wandering off. You have to notice what your mind is doing and come back to the task at hand. You’re training the brain for a very basic process of willpower.

*   *   *   *   *

People who meditate sleep better at night. It’s very much underappreciated that we need our brains to be in top form. Getting more sleep literally makes your brain better able to remember its goals and control stress.

2-25-13 Weekly Quotes: From Retirement to Renaissance

[I’m becoming very intrigued with growing older with vitality and grace. These quotes from Michael Gelb’s latest book Brain Power: Improve Your Mind as You Age offer some comfort and optimism.]

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.– George Bernard Shaw

Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young.– Benjamin Franklin

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 that God has implanted in the human soul.– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.– Franz Kafka

If I had to live my life again I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once a week; for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied could thus have been kept active through use.– Charles Darwin

We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we harden.– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The excitement of learning separates youth from old age. As long as you’re learning, you’re not old.– Rosalyn Yalow, Nobel laureate

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.– John Wooden

Retirement without the love of learning is a living burial.– Seneca

Learning a new skill can change hundreds of millions of cortical connections.– Michael Merzenich, neuroscientist

Just the attempt to learn a [new] language is like running different software through the brain.– Andrew Weil, M.D., Healthy Aging

Learn a new language and get a new soul.– Czech proverb

A different language is a different vision of life.– Federico Fellini

The minute a man ceases to grow, no matter what his years, that minute he begins to be old.– William James

When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.– Benjamin Franklin

If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.– Thomas A. Edison

3-4-13 Weekly Quotes: Walk Down Another Street

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters


I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk

I fall in.

I am lost…I am helpless

It isn’t my fault.

It takes me forever to find a way out.


I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I’m in the same place

But, it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.


I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it is there.

I still fall in…it’s a habit

My eyes are open,

I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.


I walk down the same street

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.


I walk down another street.-Portia Nelson

3-18-13 Weekly Quotes: Weather – Whether We Like It Or Not

[I happen to live in the blessedly benign climate of the San Francisco Bay Area. Many friends and family members in the Midwest and on the East coast, however, have been hit with dreadful, even destructive storms this winter. In honor of their resilience….]

The most serious charge which can be brought against New England is not Puritanism but February.– Joseph Wood Krutch

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 when 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

I’m no longer afraid of storms, for I am learning to sail my ship.– Louise May Alcott

People get a bad impression of weather by continually trying to treat it as if it were a bank clerk, who ought to be on time on Tuesday next, instead of philosophically seeing it as a painter, who may do anything so long as you don’t try to predict what.– Katharine Whitehorn

A change in the weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves.– Marcel Proust

Just for the record, the weather today is calm and sunny, but the air is full of bullshit.– Chuck Palahniuk

For every man sound in body and serene of mind there is no such thing as bad weather; every day has its beauty, and storms which whip the blood do but make it pulse more vigorously.– George Gissing

There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.– Alfred Wainwright

Summer is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces up, snow is exhilarating; there is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.– John Ruskin

One can find so many pains when the rain is falling.– John Steinbeck

Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.– Vista M. Kelly

Only those in tune with nature seem to pick up on the energy in wind. All sorts of things get swept off in the breeze – ghosts, pieces of soul, voices unsung, thoughts repressed, love uncherished, and a thousands galore of spiritual ether. Wind is an emotional rush because emotions are rushing by.– Terri Guillemets

The wind shows us how close to the edge we are.– Joan Didion

The substance of the winds is too thin for human eyes, their written language is too difficult for human minds, and their spoken language mostly too faint for the ears.– John Muir

I am sure it is a great mistake always to know enough to go in when it rains. One may keep snug and dry by such knowledge, but one misses a world of loveliness.– Adeline Knapp

Walking through puddles is my favorite metaphor for life.– Terri Guillemets

The heavy rain beat down the tender branches of vine and Jessamine, and trampled on them in its fury; and when the lightning gleamed, it showed the tearful leaves shivering and cowering together at the window, and tapping at it urgently, as if beseeching to be sheltered from the dismal night.– Charles Dickens, Martin Chuzzlewit

But the true lover of rain has a deep inner enjoyment of the rain, as rain, and his sense of its beauty drinks it in as thirstily as does the drinking earth. It refreshes and cools his heart and brain; he longs to go forth into the fields, to feel its steady stream, to scent its fragrance, to stand under some heavy-foliaged chestnut tree, and hear the rushing music on the crowded leaves.– John Richard Vernon

Whether the weather be fine,
Whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold,
Whether the weather be hot,
We’ll weather the weather,
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not.– John Ruskin

3-25-13 Weekly Quotes: Spiritual Fitness


If you can start the day without caffeine or pep pills,

If you can be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,

If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,

If you can understand when loved ones are too busy to

Give you time,

If you can overlook when people take things out on you

When, through no fault of yours, something goes wrong,

If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,

If you can face the world without lies and deceit,

If you can conquer tension without medical help,

If you can relax without liquor,

If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,

Then you are probably a dog.

[thanks to Tara Brach:]

4-1-13 Weekly Quotes: Integrity

[I had the deep privilege of teaching on Integrity at Spirit Rock Meditation Center and the Awakening Joy course last Wednesday (text archived on the Dharma Talks page on this website). May these additional quotes be an inspiration as you are called to your own conscience and integrity in any given moment.]

The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.– Gloria Steinem

Men stumble over truth from time to time but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened.– Winston Churchill

We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable.– Alexander Solzhenitsyn

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

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.– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Truth is not only violated by falsehood; it may be equally outraged by silence.– Henri-Frederic Amiel

To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.– Abraham Lincoln

When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?– Eleanor Roosevelt

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.– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Feeling that morality has nothing to do with the way you use the resources of this world is an idea that can’t persist any longer. If it does, then we won’t.– Barbara Kingsolver

Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.– Martin Luther King, Jr.

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

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

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.– George Orwell

In these times when anger
Is turned into anxiety
And someone has stolen the horizons and mountains,

Our small emperors on parade
Never expect our indifference
To disturb their nakedness.

They keep their heads down
And their eyes gleam with reflection
From aluminum economic ground,

The media wraps everything
In a cellophane of sound,
And the ghost surface of the virtual overlays the breathing earth.

The industry of distraction
Makes us forget
That we live in a universe.

We have become converts
To the religion of stress
And its deity of progress;

That we may have courage
To turn aside from it all
And come to kneel down before the poor,
To discover what we must do,
How to turn anxiety
Back into anger,
How to find our way home.– John O’Donohue

4-15-13 Weekly Quotes: Humility

Yes, today is tax day. Rather than focus on taxes, I’d rather still focus on healing and awakening into aliveness and wholeness. (Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s.)

As I was walking the ridge trail yesterday morning, grasses green after the recent rains, trees blossoming forth in spring-time exuberance, it struck me that the point of life…is life. To notice, rejoice in, and revere life. In the midst of all the details – taxes, working hard, technology, cultural creatives – the point of life is life. (The soul is here for its own joy. – Robert Bly)

My practices to keep the moral compass in the midst of so much busy-ness now with the book (as of this writing, #11 in neuropsychology on Amazon; thank you all!) are gratitude, awe and equanimity. And, as I meet so many people who contribute to healing and awakening in so many ways, an increasing humility about the entire enterprise.

Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself at all.– William Temple

True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.– C.S. Lewis

It is well to remember that the entire population of the universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others.– Andrew J. Holmes

Humility is throwing oneself away in complete concentration on something or someone else.– Madeleine L’Engle

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.– Ernest Hemingway

To have humility is to experience reality, not in relation to ourselves, but in its sacred independence. It is to see, judge and act from the point of rest in ourselves. Then, how much disappears, and all that remains falls into place.

In the point of rest at the center of our being, we encounter a world where all things are at rest in the same way. Then a tree becomes a mystery, a cloud a revelation, each man a cosmos of whose riches we can only catch glimpses. The life of simplicity is simple, but it opens to us a book in which we never get beyond the first syllable.– Dag Hammarskjold

Humility is the only true wisdom by which we prepare our minds for all the possible changes of life,– George Arliss

Modesty is a shining light; it prepares the mind to receive knowledge, and the heart for truth.– Madam Guizot

Humility has nothing to do with depreciating ourselves and our gifts in ways we know to be untrue. Even “humble” attitudes can be masks of pride. Humility is that freedom from our self which enable us to be in positions in which we have neither recognition nor importance, neither power nor visibility, and even experience deprivation, and yet have joy and delight. It is the freedom of knowing that we are not in the center of the universe, not even in the center of our own private universe.– David. F. Wells

A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.– Benjamin Franklin

Wash out your ego every once in a while, as cleanliness in next to godliness not just in body but in humility as well.– Terri Guillemets

On the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom.– Michel de Montaigne

The man who thinks he can live without others is mistaken; the one who thinks others can’t live without him is even more deluded.– Hasidic saying

Lord, where we are wrong, make us willing to change; where we are right, make us easy to live with.– Peter Marshall

Humility means accepting reality with no attempt to outsmart it.– David Richo

Humility is just as much the opposite of self-abasement as it is of self-exaltation. To be humble is not to make comparisons. Secure in its reality, the self is neither better nor worse, bigger nor smaller, than anything else in the universe. It is nothing, yet at the same time one with everything. It is in this sense that humility is absolute self-effacement.

To be nothing in the self-effacement of humility, yet, for the sake of the task, to embody its whole weight and importance in your bearing, as the one who has been called to undertake it. To give to people, works, poetry, art, what the self can contribute, and to take, simply and freely, what belongs to it by reason of its identity. Praise and blame, the winds of success and adversity, blow over such a life without leaving a trace or upsetting its balance.– Dag Hammarskjold

It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know the sense of wonder and humility.– Rachel Carson

We have lived by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. And this has been based on the even flimsier assumption that we could know with any certainty what was good even for us. We have fulfilled the danger of this by making our personal pride and greed the standard of our behavior toward the world – to the incalculable disadvantage of the world and every living thing in it. And now, perhaps very close to too late, our great errors have become clear. It is not only our own creativity – our own capacity for life – that is stifled by our arrogant assumption; the creation itself is stifled.

We have been wrong. We must change our lives, so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and to learn what is good for it. We must learn to cooperate in its processes, and to yield to its limits. But even more important, 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

4-22-13 Weekly Quotes: Compassion in the Face of Sudden Tragedy

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

Loving-kindness and compassion are the basis for wise, powerful, sometimes gentle and sometimes fierce, actions that can really make a difference – in our own lives and those of others.– Sharon Salzberg

What comes from the heart goes to the heart.– Samuel Taylor Coleridge

We need to build millions of little moments of caring on an individual level. Indeed, as talk of a politics of meaning becomes more widespread, many people will feel it easier to publicly acknowledge their own spiritual and ethical aspirations and will allow themselves to give more space to their highest vision in their personal interactions with others. A politics of meaning is as much about these millions of small acts as it is about any larger change. The two necessarily go hand in hand.– Michael Lerner

Compassion is not sentiment but is making justice and doing works of mercy. Compassion is not a moral commandment but a flow and overflow of the fullest human and divine energies.– Matthew Fox

The act of compassion begins with full attention, just as rapport does. You have to really see the person. If you see the person, then naturally, empathy arises. If you tune into the other person, you feel with them. If empathy arises, and if that person is in dire need, then empathic concern can come. You want to help them, and then that begins a compassionate act. – Daniel Goleman

Any ordinary favor we do for someone or any compassionate reaching out may seem to be going nowhere at first, but may be planting a seed we can’t see right now. Sometimes we need to just do the best we can and then trust in an unfolding we can’t design or ordain.– Sharon Salzberg

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 Rosten

Compassion is the basis of morality.– Arthur Schopenhauer

Compassion is the radicalism of our time.– Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

Sometimes we think that to develop an open heart, to be truly loving and compassionate, means that we need to be passive, to allow others to abuse us, to smile and let anyone do what they want with us. Yet this is not what is meant by compassion. Quite the contrary. Compassion is not at all weak. It is the strength that arises out of seeing the true nature of suffering in the world. Compassion allows us to bear witness to that suffering, whether it is in ourselves or others, without fear; it allows us to name injustice without hesitation, and to act strongly, with all the skill at our disposal. To develop this mind state of compassion is to learn to live, as the Buddha put it, with sympathy for all living beings, without exception.– Sharon Salzberg

Compassion will no longer be seen as a spiritual luxury for a contemplative few; rather it will be viewed as a social necessity for the entire family.– Duane Elgin

The individual is capable of both great compassion and great indifference. He has it within his means to nourish the former and outgrow the latter.– Norman Cousins

The moment we cease to hold each other, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.– James Baldwin

Love is more than a noun – it is a verb; it is more than a feeling – it is caring, sharing, helping, sacrificing.– William Arthur Ward

If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.– Maya Angelou

Although humans inherit a biological bias that permits them to feel anger, jealousy, selfishness and envy, and to be rude, aggressive or violent, they inherit an even stronger biological bias for kindness, compassion, cooperation, love and nurture – especially toward those in need. This inbuilt ethical sense is a biological feature of our species.– Jerome Kagan

We frail humans are at one time capable of the greatest good and, at the same time, capable of the greatest evil. Change will only come about when each of us takes up the daily struggle ourselves to be more forgiving, compassionate, loving, and above all joyful in the knowledge that, by some miracle of grace, we can change as those around us can change, too.– Mairead Maguire

A good motivation is what is needed: compassion without dogmatism, without complicated philosophy; just understanding that others are human brothers and sisters and respecting their human rights and dignities. That we humans can help each other is one of our unique human capacities.– Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

You know, there’s a lot of talk in this country about the federal deficit. But I think we should talk more about our empathy deficit – the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes; to see the world through the eyes of those who are different from us – the child who’s hungry, the steelworker who’s been laid-off, the family who lost the entire life they build together when the storm came to town. When you think like this – when you choose to broaden your ambit of concern and empathize with the plight of others, whether they are close friends or distant strangers – it becomes harder not to act; harder not to help. Barack Obama

To care for anyone else enough to make their problems one’s own, is ever the beginning of one’s real ethical development.– Felix Adler

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 the 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

Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increased our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.– Daniel Goleman

When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space.– Pema Chodron

The greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being.– Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

4-29-13 Weekly Quotes: Every Day is Earth Day

[I “missed” a focus on Earth Day in the weekly quotes last Monday, focusing more on responding skillfully, compassionately, to the tragedy at the end of the Boston Marathon. But the Earth faces its own tragedies if we don’t find ways to respond skillfully and compassionately to the challenges of climate change and environmental destruction, too. May this week’s quotes inform and inspire.]

We are living on this planet as if we had another one to go to.– Terri Swearingen

One planet, one experiment.– Edward O. Wilson

It was not until we saw the picture of the earth, from the moon, that we realized how small and how helpless this planet is – something that we must hold in our arms and care for.– Margaret Mead

I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise, what is there to defend?– Robert Redford

The supreme reality of our time is the vulnerability of our planet.– John F. Kennedy

I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.– E.B. White

This is a beautiful planet and not at all fragile. Earth can withstand significant volcanic eruptions, tectonic cataclysms, and ice ages. But this canny, intelligent, prolific, and extremely self-centered human creature has proven himself capable of more destruction of life than Mother Nature herself….We’ve got to be stopped.– Michael L. Fischer

The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.– Ralph Waldo Emerson

For the first time in the history of the world, every human being is now subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals, from the moment of conception until death.– Rachel Carson

If you really want to define civilization, it should be a culture that doesn’t destroy its environment. If you burn down the kitchen on day and expect to eat the next, it is not even intelligent, let alone civilized.– Sting

Your grandchildren will likely find it incredible – or even sinful – that you burned up a gallon of gasoline to fetch a pack of cigarettes!– Paul MacCready, Jr.

[here begins the “Oh, dear!” section]

Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.– Henry David Thoreau

There’s so much pollution in the air now that if it weren’t for our lungs there’d be no place to put it all.– Robert Orben

The packaging for a microwavable dinner is programmed for a shelf life of maybe six months, a cook time of two minutes, and a landfill dead-time of centuries.– David Wann

And Man created the plastic bag and the tin and aluminum can and the cellophane wrapper and the paper plate, and this was good because Man could then take his automobile and buy all his food in one place and He could save that which was good to eat in the refrigerator and throw away that which had no further use. And soon the earth was covered with plastic bags and aluminum cans and paper plates and disposable bottles and there was nowhere to sit down or walk, and Man shook his head and cried: “Look at this Godawful mess.”– Art Buchwald

O Beautiful for smoggy skies, insecticide grain,
For strip-mined mountains’ majesty above the asphalt plain.
America, America, man sheds his waste on thee,
And hides the pines with billboard signs, from sea to oily sea.– George Carlin

Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.– Cree Indian proverb

Modern technology
Owes ecology
An apology.– Alan M. Eddison

You go into a community and they will vote 80 percent to 20 percent in favor of a tougher Clean Air Act, but if you ask them to devote 20 minutes a year to having their car emissions inspected, they will vote 80 to 20 against it. We are a long way in this country from taking individual responsibility for the environmental problem,– William D. Ruckelshaus

We’re in a giant car heading towards a brick wall and everyone is arguing over where they’re going to sit.– David Suzuki

[and hope for the beginning of the way out….]

All in favor of conserving gasoline, raise your right foot.– author unknown

The ecological crisis is doing what no other crisis in history has ever done – challenging us to a realization of a new humanity.– Jean Houston

The earth is what we all have in common.– Wendell Berry

When the soil disappears, the soul disappears.– Terri Guillemets

Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.– H.G. Wells

Man shapes himself through decisions that shape his environment.– Rene Dubos

Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.– Albert Einstein

There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew.– Marshall McLuhan

Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the people of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it.– Chief Seattle

The frog does not drink up the pond is which it lives.– Chinese proverb

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.– Native American proverb

You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of your grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of your kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.– Native American wisdom

The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition.– Carl Sagan

The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.– Galileo

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

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

God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.– John Muir

He that plants trees loves others beside himself.– Thomas Fuller

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

5-6-13 Weekly Quotes: National Library Week

[We’ve just celebrated the 55th annual National Library Week, April 14-20, 2013. In celebration of the resources and wisdom available in our national treasure of public libraries, to recover resilience and everything else necessary for well-being:]

What is more important in a library than anything else – than everything else – is the fact that it exists.– Archibald MacLeish

Libraries: The medicine chest of the soul.– inscription over the door, library at Thebes

Nutrimentum spiritus (food for the soul).– Berlin Royal Library inscription

The best of my education has come from the public library…my tuition fee is a bus fare and once in a while, five cents a day for an overdue book. You don’t need to know very much to start with, if you know the way to the public library.– Lesley Conger

Perhaps no place in any community is so totally democratic as the town library. The only entrance requirement is interest.– Lady Bird Johnson

There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.– Andrew Carnegie

A public library is the most enduring of memorials, the trustiest monument for the preservation of an event or a name or an affection; for it, and it only, is respected by wars and revolutions, and survives them.– Mark Twain

A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library.– Shelby Foote

Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.– Steward Brand, Whole Earth Catalog

The richest person in the world – in fact all the riches in the world – couldn’t provide you with anything like the endless, incredible loot available at your local library.– Malcolm Forbes

We may sit in our library and yet be in all quarters of the earth.– John Lubbock

A great library contains the diary of the human race.– George Mercer Dawson

The library is not a shrine for the worship of books. It is not a temple where literary incense must be burned or where one’s devotion to the bound book is expressed in ritual. A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas – a place where history comes to life.– Norman Cousins

A good library will never be too neat, or too dusty, because somebody will always be in it, taking books off the shelves and staying up late reading them.– Lemony Snicket

Libraries are reservoirs of strength, grace and wit, reminders of order, calm and continuity, lakes of mental energy, neither warm nor cold, light nor dark…In any library in the world, I am at home, unselfconscious, still, and absorbed.– Germaine Greer

The library connects us with the insight and knowledge, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn from the entire planet and from all our history, to instruct us without tiring, and to inspire us to make our own contribution to the collective knowledge of the human species. I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future, can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.– Carl Sagan

5-13-13 Weekly Quotes: Simple Simplicity

[I passed a gas station/car wash on the corner the other day; the most beautiful roses and begonias were growing up along the side of the business. Maybe that’s good business, but it’s also just good. The goodness of simplicity.]

Gravity of Stars

Discovered while staring at the bottom of a coffee-cup
that I’ve spent too much time looking-up.
That if your head is arched too high in the clouds
you can’t appreciate how much you have grown
once you have forgotten the ground.
I want to forget about stars.
About things that fly.
And God.
I want to find magnitude in a molehill,
hard work on an ant’s back,
bad choice in an empty bottle,
forgiveness in a person’s car wreck.
I want to see color the same way a blind man must feel it.
Tell me when it was when I forgot about simplicity.
When I started to believe that someone who could do trigonometry in their
head mattered more than a 33-year-old man who finally woke up this
and decided he was done wasting his life.
Today, he was gonna figure out to be better at living again.
We need to remember to go up to every person we see with scars
shake their hand and say,
Congratulations for surviving whatever it was
that caused you to hurt yourself.
Stop wishing on stars and start believing in ourselves again
for this world is a ticking time bomb;
everyday that passes is just another moment less.
I want to see my reflection in an eye of a fly.
No more stargazing.
Waterfall wishing.
Prayer giving.
I’m starting to get a crook in my neck by staring in the clouds for too long.
I want to be inspired by heartbeats again.
Hold people like my favorite book,
kiss the fat pimple on a teenager’s forehead and say,
I hope you don’t think that is a factor in how beautiful you are,
‘Cuz it is not.
Tell Michael Ray Stevens
It doesn’t make you bad to be in love with a boy-
love is what makes us human.
Be happy that you feel something for someone-
you’d be surprised how difficult that is for some.
I want to tell pilots to try swimming.
That the sky is way too beautiful for us to be in it.
We need to come down from our high-horse.
Tomorrow I’m going to travel Austin, TX by crawling on my knees
in hopes that when I stand back up I’ll see things differently.
I’m done dreaming of astronauts.
The moon is a made-up romantic.
Put me in the pavement.
Lie my carcass in the cracks.
Let me be humbled by the power of speaking by the silent dance
of a deaf man’s hands.
I want to watch closely the lips of a mute
who wishes for nothing other than to hear the sound of his voice.
Visit a hospital and hold the hand of a woman in a coma dreaming
about moving again.
For the sky has nothing in it as interesting as the diversity on this earth.
That is why I don’t care anymore about flying.
There is a reason the stars keep falling.
They are jealous of the things we get to see
by just being here-
ground…– Lacey Roop

(If you’re interested in receiving poems like this in your daily inbox, you can subscribe to an excellent resource for recovering resilience: Poetry Lovers.)

5-27-13 Weekly Quotes: Memorial Day – War and Peace

[a reprise from 2012 e-quotes; all still true]

One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one.– Agatha Christie

Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount.– Omar N. Bradley

The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.– David Friedman

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.– Dwight D. Eisenhower

I have seen war. I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war.– Franklin Delano Roosevelt

War does not determine who is right – only who is left.”– Bertrand Russell

We tend to think the problem is human beings have this natural tendency to kill, and yet in the middle of World War II, “good war,” as it were, the US army was astonished to learn that at least three out of every four riflemen who were trained to kill and commanded to kill, could not bring themselves to pull the trigger when they could see the person they were ordered to kill. And that inner resistance to violence is a well kept secret.– William Ury

Sometime they’ll give a war and nobody will come.”– Carl Sandburg

War is only a cowardly escape from the problems of peace.”– Thomas Mann

There never was a good war or a bad peace.– Benjamin Franklin

I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.”– Dwight David Eisenhower

True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.– Martin Luther King., Jr.

Peace is not the absence of war; it is a virtue; a state of mind; a disposition for benevolence; confidence; and justice.– Spinoza

Peace, in the sense of the absence of war, is of little value to someone who is dying of hunger or cold. It will not remove the pain of torture inflicted on a prisoner of conscience. It does not comfort those who have lost their loved ones in floods caused by senseless deforestation in a neighboring country.

Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free.– HH the Dalai Lama

Peace is not only better than war, but infinitely more arduous.– George Bernard Shaw

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.– Mother Teresa

If there is light in the soul,

There will be beauty in the person.

If there is beauty in the person,

There will be harmony in the house.

If there is harmony in the house,

There will be order in the nation.

If there is order in the nation,

There will be peace in the world.– Chinese proverb

6-3-13 Weekly Quotes: It is Essential to Like Yourself

It is rewarding to find someone whom you like, but it is essential to like yourself.

It is quickening to recognize that someone is a good and decent human being, but it indispensable to view yourself as acceptable.

It is a delight to discover people who are worthy of respect and admiration and love, but it is vital to believe yourself deserving of these things.

For you cannot live in someone else. You cannot find yourself in someone else. You cannot be given a life by someone else.

Of all the people you will know in a lifetime, you are the only one you will never leave nor lose.

To the question of life, you are the only answer. To the problems of your life, you are the only solution.– J. Coudert

6-10-13 Weekly Quotes: Movement and the Vitality of Life

[following up on last week’s Resources for Recovering Resilience: Movement into Life, based on Anat Baniel’s book Move into Life: The Nine Essentials for Lifelong Vitality.]

Movement is life; without movement life is unthinkable.– Moshe Feldenkrais

Nothing happens until something moves.– Albert Einstein

Consciousness is only possible through change; change is only possible through movement.– Aldous Huxley

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.– Martha Graham

Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional and mental states.– Carol Welch

It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is not 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

All that is important is this one moment in movement. Make the moment important, vital, and worth living. Do not let it slip away unnoticed and unused.– Martha Graham

I’m passionately involved in life. I love its change its color, its movement. To be alive, to be able to see, to walk, to have houses, music, paintings – it’s all a miracle.– Arthur Rubenstein

6-24-13 Weekly Quotes: Great Moments Often Catch Us Unawares by Kent Nerburn

[As I was clearing out my garage a few weeks ago, (see June 20, 2013 RRR: All Things Fall Away) I also came upon this story e-mailed to me by my friend DeWaine 5 years ago. Perhaps the unknown purpose of my cleaning out the garage was to find this story again.]

There was a time in my life twenty years ago when I was driving a cab for a living.

It was a cowboy’s life, a gambler’s life, a life for someone who wanted no boss, constant movement and the thrill of a dice roll every time a new passenger got into the cab.

What I didn’t count on when I took the job was that it was also a ministry.

Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a rolling confessional. Passengers would climb in, sit behind me in total anonymity and tell me of their lives.

We were like strangers on a train, the passengers and I, hurtling through the night, revealing intimacies we would never have dreamed of sharing during the brighter light of day. I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, made me laugh and made me weep.

And none of those lives touched me more than that of a woman I picked up late on a warm August night.

I was responding to a call from a small brick fourplex in a quiet part of town. I assumed I was being sent to pick up some partiers, or someone who had just had a fight with a lover, or someone going off to an early shift at some factory for the industrial part of town.
When I arrived at the address, the building was dark except for a single light in a ground-floor window.

Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a short minute, then drive away. Too many bad possibilities awaited a driver who went up to a darkened building at 2:30 in the morning.

But I had seen too many people trapped in a life of poverty who depended on the cab as their only means of transportation.

Unless a situation had a real whiff of danger, I always went to the door to find the passenger. It might, I reasoned, be someone who needs my assistance. Would I not want a driver to do the same if my mother or father had called for a cab?

So I walked to the door and knocked.

“Just a minute,” answered a frail and elderly voice. I could hear the sound of something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman somewhere in her 80s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like you might see in a costume shop or a Goodwill store or in a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The sound had been her dragging it across the floor.

The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

“Would you carry my bag out to the car?” she said. “I’d like a few moments alone. Then, if you could come back and help me? I’m not very strong.”

I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm, and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness.

“It’s nothing,” I told her. “I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated.”

“Oh, you’re such a good boy,” she said. Her praise and appreciation were almost embarrassing.
When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, “Could you drive through downtown?”

“It’s not the shortest way,” I answered.

“Oh, I don’t mind,” she said. “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.”
I looked in the rearview mirror. Her eyes were glistening.

“I don’t have any family left,” she continued. “The doctor says I should go there. He says I don’t have very long.”

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. “What route would you like me to go?” I asked.
For the next two hours we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they had first been married. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she would have me slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, “I’m tired. Let’s go now.”
We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. Without waiting for me, they opened the door and began assisting the woman. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her; perhaps she had phoned them right before we left.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase up to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

“How much do I owe you?” she asked, reaching into her purse.

“Nothing,” I said.

“You have to make a living,” she answered.

“There are other passengers,” I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held on to me tightly.

“You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,” she said. “Thank you.”

There was nothing more to say.

I squeezed her hand once, then walked out into the dim morning light. Behind me, I could hear the door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I did not pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the remainder of that day, I could hardly talk.

What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away? What if I had been in a foul mood and had refused to engage the woman in conversation?

How many other moments like that had I missed or failed to grasp?

We are so conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unawares.

When that woman hugged me and said that I had brought her a moment of joy, it was possible to believe that I had been placed on earth for the sole purpose of providing her with that last ride.

I do not think that I have ever done anything in my life that was any more important.

By Kent Nerburn, www.kentnerburn.com, adapted from Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace,” reproduced on Zen Moments.

7-8-13 Weekly Quotes: Be The Change You Seek

[In honor of Nelson Mandela]

Lord, who can be trusted with power,
And who may act in your place?
Those with a passion for justice,
Who speak the truth from their hearts;
Who have let go of selfish interests
And grown beyond their lives;
Who see the wretched as their family
And the poor as their flesh and blood.
They alone are impartial
And worthy of the people’s trust.
Their compassion lights up the earth,
And their kindness endures forever.– Psalm 15, Translated by Stephen Mitchell

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.– Nelson Mandela

Every few hundred years in Western history there occurs a sharp transformation. Within a few short decades, society – its world views, its basic values, its social and political structures, its arts, its key institutions – rearranges itself. We are currently living through such a transformation.– Peter Drucker, Post-Capitalist Society

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

Every single one of us can do something, however small, to make a difference.– Archbishop Desmond Tutu

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

Do all that you can, with all that you have, in the time that you have, in the place where you are.– Nkosi Johnson, who died of AIDS at age 12

He who saves one life saves the world entire.– The Talmud

Be the change you seek….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

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

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.– F. Scott Fitzgerald

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 1951 Scottish Expedition to climb Mt. Everest

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

It always seems impossible until it’s done.– Nelson Mandela

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.– Margaret Mead

7-15-13 Weekly Quotes: Leisure and Sweet Fun

[I just returned from my annual pilgrimage to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, OR a fabulous resource for leisure and sweet fun.]

Each day, and the living of it, has to be a conscious creation in which discipline and order are relieved with some play and pure foolishness.– May Sarton

The word “silly” derives from the Greek ‘selig’ meaning blessed. There is something sacred in being able to be silly.– Paul Pearsall

If you are losing your leisure, look out; you may be losing your soul.– Logan P. Smith

In rare moments of deep play, we can lay aside our sense of self, shed time’s continuum, ignore pain, and sit quietly in the absolute present, watching the world’s ordinary miracles. No mind or heart hobbles. No analyzing or explaining. No questing for logic. No promises. No goals. No relationships. No worry. One is completely open to whatever drama may unfold.– Diane Ackerman

If a man insisted always on being serious, and never allowed himself a bit of fun and relaxation, he would go mad or become unstable without knowing it.– Herodotus

The true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground.– G.K. Chesterton

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.– John Muir

It is in his pleasure that a man really lives; it is from his leisure that he constructs the true fabric of self.– Agnes Repplier

Unless each day can be looked back upon as one in which an individual has had some fun, some joy, some real satisfaction, that day is a loss.– Anon.

He who does not get fun and enjoyment out of every day…needs to re-organize his life.– George Matthew Adams

The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.– e.e.cummings

There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is in having lots to do and not doing it.– Mary W. Little

Time you enjoyed wasting is not wasted time.– T.S. Eliot

No man is a failure who is enjoying life.– William Feather

We don’t stop playing because we turn old, but turn old because we stop playing.– George Bernard Shaw

There can be no high civilization where there is not ample leisure.– Henry Ward Beecher

Leisure is the mother of philosophy– Thomas Hobbes

All intellectual improvement arises from leisure.– Samuel Johnson

Do you know that conversation is one of the greatest pleasures in life? But it wants leisure.– William Somerset Maugham

The happiest hours of my life have been spent in the flow of affection among friends.– Thomas Jefferson

He enjoys true leisure who has time to improve his soul’s estate.– Henry David Thoreau

The soul is dyed by the color of its leisure hours.– W. R. Inge

Leisure is a form of silence, not noiselessness. It is the silence of contemplation such as occurs when we let our minds rest on a rosebud, a child at play, a Divine mystery, or a waterfall.– Fulton J. Sheen

For lack of attention a thousand forms of loveliness elude us every day.– Evelyn Underhill

And let your best be for your friend. If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also. For what is your friend that you should seek with him hours to kill? Seek with him always hours to live. For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness. And in the sweetness of friendship, let there be laughter, and the sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.– Kahlil Gibran

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.

To-day 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.– Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali

7-22-13 Weekly Quotes: Overcoming Adversity

The art of living lies less in eliminating our troubles than in growing with them.– Bernard M. Baruch

The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise, and thinking that having problems is a problem.– Theodore Rubin

There are more things to alarm us than to harm us, and we suffer more often in apprehension than in reality.– Seneca

Worry gives a small thing a big shadow.– Swedish proverb

That the birds of worry and care fly over your head, this you cannot change; but that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.– Chinese proverb

The turning point in the process of growing up is when you discover the core of strength within you that survives all hurt.– Max Lerner

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.

The difficulties of life are intended to makes us better, not bitter.– author unknown

If I had a formula for bypassing trouble, I would not pass it round. Trouble creates a capacity to handle it. I don’t embrace trouble; that’s as bad as treating it as an enemy. But I do say meet it as a friend for you’ll see a lot of it and had better be on speaking terms with it.– Oliver Wendell Holmes

Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but the heart to conquer it.– Rabindranath Tagore

Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are.– Arthur Golden

The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man without trials.– Confucius

I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders.– Jewish proverb

7-29-13 Weekly Quotes: Watering the Seeds of Love; Composting the Seeds of Suffering

As is the gardener, such is the garden.– Hebrew proverb

Whether you tend a garden or not, you are the gardener of your own being, the seed of your destiny.– The Findhorn Community

Our role as gardeners is to choose, plant and tend the best seeds within the garden of our consciousness. Learning to look deeply at our consciousness is our greatest gift and our greatest need, for there lie the seeds of suffering and of love, the very roots of our being, of who we are. Mindfulness…is the guide and the practice by which we learn how to use the seeds of suffering to nourish the seeds of love.– Thich Nhat Hanh

We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We always have this choice. Faith is being open to what scares us.– Pema Chodron

The organic gardener does not think of throwing away the garbage. She knows that she needs the garbage. She is capable of transforming the garbage into compost, so that the compost can turn into lettuce, cucumber, radishes, and flowers again…With the energy of mindfulness, you can look into the garbage and say: I am not afraid. I am capable of transforming the garbage back into love.– Thich Nhat Hanh

Our fears are like dragons guarding our deepest treasures.– Ranier Marie Rilke

The demons in our lives are the bearers of gifts hidden under their wings.– Sarah Ban Breathnacht

Imagine that half the world is hidden from you. Half of the person sitting across from you has never been appreciated, half of the garden has never been seen or smelled, half of your own life has never been truly witnessed and appraised.– Arthur Zajonc

I give life to that which I notice. What I don’t notice dies.– Virginia Satir

Inside every one of us is a garden, and every practitioner has to go back to their garden and take care of it. Maybe in the past, you left in untended for a long time. You should know exactly what is going on in your own garden, and try to put everything in order. Restore the beauty; restore the harmony in your garden. If it is well tended, many people will enjoy your garden.– Thich Nhat Hanh

Every blade of grass has its angel that bends over it and whispers, ‘Grow, grow.'”– The Talmud

The heart of most spiritual practices is simply this: Remember who you are. Remember what you love. Remember what is sacred. Remember what is true. Remember that you will die and that this day is a gift. Remember how you wish to live.– Wayne Muller

In difficult times, you should always carry something beautiful in your mind.– Blaise Pascal

I am larger and better than I thought. I did not think I held so much goodness.– Walt Whitman

Let us be grateful to the people who makes us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.– Marcel Proust

Words can travel thousands of miles. May my words create mutual understanding and love. May they be as beautiful as gems, as lovely as flowers.– Thich Nhat Hanh

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.– Mother Teresa

I suspect that the most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention. And especially if it’s given from the heart. When people are talking, there’s no need to do anything but receive them.– Rachel Naomi Remen

Kind hearts are the gardens, kind thoughts are the roots.
Kind words are the flowers, kind deeds are the fruits.
Take care of your garden, and keep out the weeds,
Fill it with sunshine, kind words and kind deeds.– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Kindness is more important than wisdom. And the recognition of that is the beginning of wisdom.– Theodore Rubin

Breathing in, I am aware that I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I am aware that I am breathing out.
Breathing in, I am grateful for this moment.
Breathing out, I smile.
Breathing in, I am aware of the preciousness of this day.
Breathing out, I vow to live deeply in this day.– Thich Nhat Hanh

[all quotes from The Seeds of Love: Growing Mindful Relationships by Jerry Braza.]

8-5-13 Weekly Quotes: Suffering and Overcoming Suffering

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened. All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.– Helen Keller

If you’re going through hell, keep going…– Winston Churchill

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obliged to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.– Talmud

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.– Eleanor Roosevelt

Finally, finally, on my way to yes, I bump into all the places where I have said no to my life. All the unintended wounds, the red and purple scars, those hieroglyphs of pain etched into my skin and bones; those coded messages that sent me down the wrong street again and again – where I meet them and life them up one by one, the old wounds, the old mis-directions; I lift them one by one close to my heart and I say: HOLY, HOLY, HOLY.– Peshe Gertler

Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we often might win, by fearing to attempt.– Jane Addams

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. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.– Viktor Frankl

Don’t waste life in doubts and fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour’s duties will be the best preparation for the hours and ages that will follow it.– Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

8-19-13 Weekly Quotes: Nature – Re-Source for Resilience

[As you read this, I am on a silent meditation retreat among ancient redwood trees; re-Sourcing and replenishing. May these quotes be useful to you and yours.]

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 am not bound for any public place, but for ground of my own where I have planted vines and orchard trees, and in the heat of the day climbed up into the healing shadow of the woods. Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.– Wendell Berry

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

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

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

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.– John Muir

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

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

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.– Eleonora Duse

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

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

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

8-26-13 Weekly Quotes: Consciousness of Consciousness

[Consciousness is a big topic. I’ve just completed a 6-day silent meditation retreat in a redwood forest on Mt. Tamalpais near my home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Consciousness expanded by settling into a time of quiet, spacious stillness among trees a thousand years old. This week, as you read this, I’m assisting my friend and colleague Richard Miller in a week-long training on The Transformative Power of Being: The Non-Dual Yoga of Delight, Wonder and Astonishment. More expanding of consciousness and directly experiencing the Consciousness we can experience/interpret as the source of all that is. May these offerings inspire you in your own exploration of Consciousness.]

How can a three-pound mass of jelly that you can hold in your palm imagine angels, contemplate the meaning of infinity, and even question its own place in the cosmos? Especially awe inspiring is the fact that any single brain, including yours, is made up of atoms that were forged in the hearts of countless, far-flung stars billions of years ago. These particles drifted for eons and light-years until gravity and change brought them together here, now. These atoms now form a conglomerate- your brain- that can not only ponder the very stars that gave it birth but can also think about its own ability to think and wonder about its own ability to wonder. With the arrival of humans, it has been said, the universe has suddenly become conscious of itself. This, truly, is the greatest mystery of all.– V.S. Ramachandran

Human consciousness is just about the last surviving mystery. A mystery is a phenomenon that people don’t know how to think about – yet. There have been other great mysteries: the mystery of the origin of the universe, the mystery of life and reproduction, the mystery of the design to be found in nature, the mysteries of time, space, and gravity. These were not just areas of scientific ignorance, but of utter bafflement and wonder. We do not yet have all the answers to any of the questions of cosmology and particle physics, molecular genetics and evolutionary theory, but we do know how to think about them …. With consciousness, however, we are still in a terrible muddle. Consciousness stands alone today as a topic that often leaves even the most sophisticated thinkers tongue-tied and confused. And, as with all of the earlier mysteries, there are many who insist — and hope — that there will never be a demystification of consciousness.– Daniel C. Dennett

A human being is a part of a whole, called by us “universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thought 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.– Albert Einstein

True philosophy must start from the most immediate and comprehensive fact of consciousness: ‘I am life that wants to live, in the midst of life that wants to live.’– Albert Schweitzer

We do not realize how deeply our starting assumptions affect the way we go about looking for and interpreting the data we collect. We should recognize that nonhuman organisms need not meet every new definition of human language, tool use, mind, or consciousness in order to have versions of their own that are worthy of study. We have set ourselves too much apart, grasping for definitions that will distinguish man from all other life on the planet. We must rejoin the great stream of life from whence we arose and strive to see within it the seeds of all we are and all we may become.– E. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh

Not too long ago thousands spent their lives as recluses to find spiritual vision in the solitude of nature. Modern man need not become a hermit to achieve this goal, for it is neither ecstasy nor world-estranged mysticism his era demands, but a balance between quantitative and qualitative reality. Modern man, with his reduced capacity for intuitive perception, is unlikely to benefit from the contemplative life of a hermit in the wilderness. But what he can do is to give undivided attention, at times, to a natural phenomenon, observing it in detail, and recalling all the scientific facts about it he may remember. Gradually, however, he must silence his thoughts and, for moments at least, forget all his personal cares and desires, until nothing remains in his soul but awe for the miracle before him. Such efforts are like journeys beyond the boundaries of narrow self-love and, although the process of intuitive awakening is laborious and slow, its rewards are noticeable from the very first. If pursued through the course of years, something will begin to stir in the human soul, a sense of kinship with the forces of life consciousness which rule the world of plants and animals, and with the powers which determine the laws of matter. While analytical intellect may well be called the most precious fruit of the Modern Age, it must not be allowed to rule supreme in matters of cognition. If science is to bring happiness and real progress to the world, it needs the warmth of man’s heart just as much as the cold inquisitiveness of his brain.– Franz Winkler

Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in eternal awareness or pure consciousness with objectification, knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity.– Voltaire

The desire to live life to its fullest, to acquire more knowledge, to abandon the economic treadmill, are all typical reactions to these experiences in altered states of consciousness. The previous fear of death is typically quelled. If the individual generally remains thereafter in the existential state of awareness, the deep internal feeling of eternity is quite profound and unshakable.– Edgar D. Mitchell

It has taken 14 billion years for matter to gain the capacity to become conscious of itself. If this is true, it wouldn’t make any sense that the whole point of enlightenment would be to escape from the whole process at the very instant that the universe is beginning to awaken to itself.– Andrew Cohen

The future is not a given. What’s going to happen is not already known and is not predetermined. So often, we tend to hold onto metaphysical worldviews that tell us that the higher levels and stages of development are already laid out. But they’re not. This is a new way of thinking: the recognition that the structures of the future are yet to be determined, yet to be created. And they don’t create themselves; they are created to the degree to which human beings at the leading edge consciously engage in the evolutionary process. Only those individuals who are way ahead of their time begin to create these new structures or grooves in consciousness, and in time, when others progress through the lower stages, they’re going to follow those grooves that have been laid by the evolutionary pioneers who went before them. When enough people take that path, those grooves get deeper and eventually become stages that everybody is going to develop through automatically. So the awakening human at the leading edge today bears a profound responsibility to be an evolutionary pioneer-to be the one who is literally living in that place between the present and the future. There is no one else who can do this for us.– Andrew Cohen

We are the cosmos made conscious and life is the means by which the universe understands itself.– Brian Cox

You are an explorer, and you represent our species, and the greatest good you can do is to bring back a new idea, because our world is endangered by the absence of good ideas. Our world is in crisis because of the absence of consciousness.– Terence McKenna

There is almost a sensual longing for communion with others who have a large vision. The immense fulfillment of the friendship between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality impossible to describe.– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.– Erwin Schrodlinger

Once again, we are reminded that awakening, or enlightenment is not the property of Buddhism, any more than Truth is the property of Christianity. Neither the Buddha nor the Christ belongs exclusively to the communities that were founded in their names. They belong to all people of goodwill, all who are attentive to the secret which lives in the depths of their breath and their consciousness.– Jean-Yves Leloup

As a spirit having a human experience, you can choose to not merely exist but to be fully conscious and aware of living in a limited world. When you take a conscious part in life and its multitudes of choices, you won’t let life happen to you – you will make life happen for you.– James Van Praagh

Now, I came to this idea of bliss because in Sanskrit, which is the great spiritual language of the world, there are three terms that represent the brink, the jumping-off place to the ocean of transcendence: Sat, Chit, Ananda. The word “Sat” means being. “Chit” means consciousness. “Ananda” means bliss or rapture. I thought, “I don’t know whether my consciousness is proper consciousness or not; I don’t know whether what I know of my being is my proper being or not; but I do know where my rapture is. So let me hang on to rapture, and that will bring me both my consciousness and my being.” I think it worked.– Joseph Campbell

Creativity is the state of consciousness in which you enter into the treasury of your innermost being and bring the beauty into manifestation.– Torkom Saraydarian

I’ve come to think that flourishing consists of putting yourself in situations in which you lose self-consciousness and become fused with other people, experiences, or tasks. It happens sometimes when you are lost in a hard challenge, or when an artist or a craftsman becomes one with the brush or the tool. It happens sometimes while you’re playing sports, or listening to music or lost in a story, or to some people when they feel enveloped by God’s love. And it happens most when we connect with other people. I’ve come to think that happiness isn’t really produced by conscious accomplishments. Happiness is a measure of how thickly the unconscious parts of our minds are intertwined with other people and with activities. Happiness is determined by how much information and affection flows through us covertly every day and year.– David Brooks

Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and richness to life that nothing else can bring. – Oscar Wilde

9-2-13 Weekly Quotes: Work as Blessing

May your work excite your heart,
Kindle in your mind a creativity
To journey beyond the old limits
Of all that has become wearisome.

May this work challenge you toward
New frontiers that will emerge
As you begin to approach them,
Calling forth from you the full force
And depth of your undiscovered gifts.

May the work fit the rhythms of your soul,
Enabling you to draw from the invisible
New ideas and a vision that will inspire.

Remember to be kind
To those you work with you,
Endeavor to remain aware
Of the quiet world
That lives behind each face.

Be fair in your expectations,
Compassionate in your criticism.
May you have the grace of encouragement
To awaken the gift in the other’s heart,
Building in them the confidence
To follow the call of the gift.

May you come to know that work
Which emerges from the mind of love
Will have beauty and form.

May this work be worthy
Of the energy of your heart
And the light of your thought.

May your work assume a proper space in your life;
Instead of owning or using you,
May it challenge and refine you,
Bringing you every day further
Into the wonder of your heart.– John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us

9-9-13 Weekly Quotes: Creating Flow

[All the quotes this week are from Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmaihalyi.]

It does not seem to be true that work necessarily needs to be unpleasant. It my always have to be hard, or at least harder than doing nothing at all. But there is ample evidence that work can be enjoyable, and that indeed, it is often the most enjoyable part of life.

Most enjoyable activities are not natural; they demand an effort that initially one is reluctant to make. But once the interaction starts to provide feedback to the person’s skills, it usually begins to be intrinsically rewarding.
Contrary to what we usually believe, moments like these, the best moments in our lives, are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times – although such experiences can also be enjoyable, if we have worked hard to attain them. The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something that we can make happen. For a child, it could be placing with trembling fingers the last block on a tower she has built, higher than any she has built so far; for a swimmer, it could be trying to beat his own record; for a violinist, mastering an intricate musical passage. For each person there are thousands of opportunities, challenges to expand ourselves.
It is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were. When we choose a goal and invest ourselves in it to the limits of concentration, whatever we do will be enjoyable. And once we have tasted this joy we will redouble our efforts to taste it again. This is the way the self grows.

Few things are sadder than encountering a person who knows exactly what he should do, yet cannot muster enough energy to do it. “He who desires but acts not,” wrote Blake with his accustomed vigor, “breeds pestilence.”

Success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedications to a course greater than oneself.
It is how people respond to stress that determines whether they will profit from misfortune or be miserable.
People who learn to control inner experience will be able to determine the quality of their lives, which is as close as any of us can come to being happy.

Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety, when the challenges are just balanced with the person’s capacity to act.

A self that is only differentiated – not integrated – may attain great individual accomplishments, but risks being mired in self-centered egotism. By the same token, a person whose self is based exclusively on integration will be well-connected and secure, but lack autonomous individuality. Only when a person invests equal amounts of psychic energy in these two processes and avoids both selfishness and conformity is the self likely to reflect complexity.

To overcome the anxieties and depressions of contemporary life individuals must become independent of the social environment to the degree that they no longer respond exclusively in terms of its rewards and punishments. To achieve such autonomy, a person has to learn to provide rewards to herself. She has to develop the ability to find enjoyment and purpose regardless of external circumstances.

A joyful life is an individual creation that cannot be copied from a recipe.

9-23-13 Weekly Quotes: Being Human

You have been told that, even like a chain, you are as weak as your weakest link.
This is but half the truth. You are also as strong as your strongest link.
To measure you by your smallest deed is to reckon the power of ocean by the frailty of its foam.
To judge you by your failures is to cast blame upon the seasons for their inconstancy.– Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

We are literature – our lives, our hopes, our desires, our despairs, our passions, our strengths, our weaknesses. Stories express our loning ot only to amake a difference today but to see what is possible for tomorrow. Literature has been called a handbook for the art of being human.– Camron Wright

There is some kind of a sweet innocence in being human – in not having to be just happy or just sad – in the nature of being able to be both broken and whole, at the same time.– C. JoyBell C.

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

I fee like God expects me to be human. I feel like god likes me just the way I am: broken and empty and bruised. I feel like god doesn’t look at me and wish that I were something else, because He likes me just this way. I feel like God doesn’t want me to close my eyes and pray for Him to make me holy or for Him to make me pure, because He made me human. I feel like God already knows I’m human. It is I who needs to learn that.
C. JoyBell C.– 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

I think humans might be like butterflies; people die every day without many other people knowing about them, seeing their colors, hearing their stories. But butterflies need to know that it doesn’t matter at all if the whole world saw their colors or not! But what matters is that they flew, they glided, they hovered, they saw, they felt, and they knew! And they loved the ones whom they flew with! And that is an existence worthwhile!– C. JoyBell C.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives: Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies: Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people will try to cheat you: Be honest anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight: Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous of you: Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten by tomorrow: Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.– Mother Teresa

9-30-13 Weekly Quotes: New Thoughts on Resilience

[After six years of posting e-quotes and then writing a book on resilience, I realize I’ve rarely posted quotes about resilience itself. New thoughts….]

Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit.– Bern William

The human capacity for burden is like bamboo – far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance.– Jodi Picoult

There exist some evils so terrible and some misfortunes so horrible that we dare not think of them, whilst their very aspect makes us shudder; but if they happen to fall on us, we find ourselves stronger than we imagined, we grapple with our ill luck, and behave better than we expected we should.– Jean de La Bruyere

Resilience is accepting your new reality, even it it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it; you can scream about what you’ve lost. Or you can accept it and try to put together something that is good.– Elizabeth Edwards

You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering.– Henri Frederic Amiel

Loss makes artists of us all as we weave new patterns in the fabric of our lives.– Greta Crosby

I got half a dozen paintings from that shattered plate.– Georgia O’Keefe

When we learn how to become resilient, we learn how to embrace the beautifully broad spectrum of the human experience.– Jaeda DeWalt

Stars may be seen from the bottom of a deep well, when they cannot be discerned from the top of a mountain. So are many things learned in adversity which the prosperous man dreams not of.– Charles Spurgeon

Great hearts can only be made by great troubles. The spade of trouble digs the reservoir of comfort deeper and makes more room for consolation.– Charles H. Spurgeon

Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible in us be found.– Pema Chodron

The leaders I met, whatever walk of life they were from, whatever institutions they were presiding over, always referred back to the same failure – something that happened to them that was personally difficult, even traumatic, something that made them feel that desperate sense of hitting bottom – as something they thought was almost a necessity. It’s as if at that moment the iron entered their soul; that moment created the resilience that leaders need.– Warren Bennis

I haven’t failed. I’ve identified 10,000 ways this doesn’t work.– Thomas Edison

People who soar are those who refuse to sit back, sigh and wish things would change. They neither complain of their lot nor passively dream of some distant ship coming in. Rather, they visualize in their minds that they are not quitters; they will not allow life’s circumstances to push them down and hold them under.– Charles Swindoll

You may have a fresh start at any moment you choose, for this thing that we call “failure” is not the falling down but the staying down.– Mary Pickford

Inside of a ring or out, ain’t nothing wrong with going down. It’s staying down that’s wrong.– Muhammad Ali

The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.– William Connor Magee

The bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you refuse to take the turn.– Author unknown

10-14-13 Weekly Quotes: Resolving Conflict

[This week’s quotes were sparked by the Greater Good Science Center e-post Sleep Before You Bicker. While researching, I came upon the Do One Thing for a Better World website that is sponsoring Conflict Resolution Day on Thursday, October 18, 2013. How the universe creates these synchronicities never fails to astound me.]

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

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

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

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

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

Feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of 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

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

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

We have to face the fact that either all of us are going to die together or we are going to learn to live together, and if we are to live together we have to talk.– Eleanor Roosevelt

The reality today is that we are all interdependent and have to co-exist on this small planet. Therefore, the only sensible and intelligent way of resolving differences and clashes of interest, whether between individuals or nations, is through dialogue.– Dalai Lama

If you start a conversation with the assumption that you are right or that you must win, obviously it is difficult to talk.– Wendell Berry

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.– Nelson Mandela

There is more than a verbal tie between the words common, community, and communication. Try the experiment of communicating, with fullness and accuracy, some experience to another, especially it if be somewhat complicated, and you will find your own attitude toward your experience changing.– John Dewey

Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor than can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.– William James

He who has learned to disagree without being disagreeable has discovered the most valuable secret of a diplomat.– Robert Estabrook

Courtesy towards opponents and eagerness to understand their view-point is the ABC of non-violence.– Mohandas Gandhi

Every kind of peaceful cooperation among men is primarily based on mutual trust and only secondarily on institutions such as courts of justice and police. Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved through understanding.– Albert Einstein

The practice of peace and reconciliation is one of the most vital and artistic of human actions. To reconcile conflicting parties, we must have the ability to understand the suffering of both sides.– Thich Nhat Hanh

Conflicts are a normal part of life; how we deal with them can make a big difference. Often when people resolve conflicts, one person ends up a winner, and one loses out. This may solve the problem for the moment, but resentment and bad feelings can cause more problems later. Another way to look at conflicts is to try to find a WIN-WIN solution, in which both sides can benefit. In this way, conflicts are turned into opportunities to grow and make things better. This approach is the cornerstone of “conflict resolution” – an important tool for bringing peace into our personal lives, our communities and to our world.– Robert Alan Silverstein

Unless both sides win, no agreement can be permanent.– Jimmy Carter

A balance of interests rather than a balance of power, a search for compromise and concord rather than a search for advantages at other people’s expense, and respect for equality rather than claims to leadership – such are the elements which can provide the groundwork for world progress.– Mikhail Gorbachev

People talk about the middle of the road as though it were unacceptable. Actually, all human problems, excepting morals, come into the gray areas. Things are not all black and white. There have to be compromises. The middle of the road is all of the usable surface. The extremes, right and left, are in the gutters.– Dwight D. Eisenhower

I wish that Resolving Conflict Creatively Program could be taught in every classroom in America, because we are not going to deal with the violence in our communities, our homes, and our nation, until we learn to deal with the basic ethic of how we resolve our disputes and to place an emphasis on peace in the way we relate to one another.– Marian Wright Edelman

Emotional intelligence in the work that we do, in the Resolving Conflict Creatively Program, is about equipping young people with the kinds of skills they need to both identify and manage their emotions, to communicate those emotions effective, and to resolve conflict nonviolently. So it’s a whole set of skills and competences that, for us, fall under the umbrella of emotional intelligence…..

We found that the young people who had a substantial number of lessons in the Resolving Conflict Creatively Curriculum not only did better in terms of people skills, that they managed their emotions, they were less violent and more caring, but they actually did better on their academic achievement tests.– Linda Lantieri

To observe people in conflict is a necessary part of a child’s education It helps him to understand and accept his own occasional hostilities and to realize that differing opinions need not imply an absence of love.– Milton R. Saperstein

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

We can work it out. Life is very short, and there’s no time for fussing and fighting, my friend.– John Lennon and Paul McCartney

I will not play at tug o’war.
I’d rather play at hug o’war,
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs,
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses,
And everyone grins,
And everyone cuddles,
And everyone wins.– Shel Silverstein

10-21-13 Weekly Quotes: Love Guards the Heart from the Abyss

[Inspired by reading Barbara Fredrickson’s Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become.]

The mind creates the abyss. The heart crosses over it. Love is the bridge.– Stephen Levine

Love guards the heart from the abyss.– Mozart

Life is fragile; love is the glue.– bumper sticker seen at Spirit Rock Meditation Center

The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.– Mother Teresa

We are not the survival of the fittest. We are the survival of the nurtured.– Louis Cozolino

We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection.– His Holiness the Dalai Lama

True love is a discipline in which each divines the secret self of the other and refuses to believe in the mere daily self.– William Butler Yeats

What “love” is I don’t know if it’s not the response of our deepest natures to one another.– William Carlos Williams

A loving heart is the truest wisdom.– Charles Dickens

The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of.– Blaise Pascal

One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life. That word is love.– Sophocles

There’s no surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved. It is God’s finger on man’s
shoulder.– Charles Morgan

Love is the law of life.– Mohandas K. Gandhi

The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.– Thomas Merton

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.– Rumi

It is not that love is blind. It is that love sees with a painter’s eye, finding the essence that renders all else background.– Robert Brault

Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.– James Baldwin

It is not necessary to be strong in every place if, in the place you are vulnerable, you are loved.– Robert Brault

Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.– Zora Neale Hurston

Love unlocks doors and opens windows that weren’t even there before.– Mignon McLaughlin

For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of our tasks; the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.– Rainer Maria Rilke

Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit.– Peter Ustinov

The little unremembered acts of kindness and love are the best parts of a person’s life.– William Wordsworth

Life is relationships; the rest is just details.– Gary Smalley

Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.– Eric Fromm

Love is not consolation. It is light.– Friedrich Nietzsche

For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.– Carl Sagan

But one of the attributes of love, like art, is to bring harmony and order out of chaos, to introduce meaning and affect where before there was none, to give rhythmic variations, highs and low to a landscape that was previously flat.– Molly Haskell

Earth’s the right place for love. I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.– Robert Frost

Take away love and our earth is a tomb.– Robert Browning

That loves is all there is, is all we know of love.– Emily Dickinson

Poetry spills from the cracks of a broken heart, but flows from one which is loved.– Christopher Paul Rubero

Nobody has ever measured, even poets, how much a heart can hold.– Zelda Fitzgerald

Love has no desire but to fulfill itself. To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.– Kahlil Gibran

Let your love be like the misty rains, coming softly, but flooding the river.– Malagasy proverb

Love is the flower of life, and blossoms unexpectedly and without law, and must be plucked where it is found, and enjoyed for the brief hour of its duration.– D.H. Lawrence

Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world; all else is folly.– Leo Tolstoy

Time is too slow for those who wait, to swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.– Henry Van Dyke

Love is like the dew that falls on both nettles and lilies.– Swedish proverb

Let my love, like sunlight,
surround you,
yet give you illumined freedom.– Rabindranath Tagore

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

10-28-13 Weekly Quotes: Wise and Skillful Conversation

[Inspired by preparation for the Thrive Together] Relationship TeleConference December 5-9, 2013]

Conversation is food for the soul.– Mexican proverb

Each person’s life is lived as a series of conversations.– Deborah Tannen

There isn’t much better in this life than finding a way to spend a few hours in conversation with people you respect and love. You have to carve this time out of your life because you aren’t really living without it.– Real Live Preacher web blog

The difference between a smart man and a wise man is that a smart man knows what to say, a wise man knows whether or not to say it.– Frank M. Garafola

The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right time, but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.– Dorothy Nevill

Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of witnesses.– Margaret Millar

Two monologues do not make a dialogue.– Jeff Daly

Few are agreeable in conversation, because each thinks more of what he intends to say than of what others are saying and listens no more when he himself has a chance to speak.– Francois de La Rochefoucauld

To listen closely and reply well is the highest perfection we are able to attain in the art of conversation.– Francois de La Rochefoucauld

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, and people will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.– Maya Angelou

A friend is someone who knows the song of your soul and sings it back to you when you’ve forgotten the words.– author unknown

Ah, the comfort,
The inexpressible comfort
Of feeling safe with a person.
Having neither to weigh out thoughts
Nor words,
But pouring them all right out, just as they are,
Chaff and grain together;
Certain that a faithful hand
Will take them and sift them;
Keeping what is worth keeping and,
With the breath of kindness,
Blow the rest away.– Dinah Craik

It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen. – Oliver Wendell Holmes

When we shift our attention toward listening, our whole world changes. Learning to listen is equal to learning to love.– Ruth Cox

An open ear is the [most] believable sign of an open heart.– David Augsburger

Deep listening is miraculous for both listener and speaker. When someone receives us with open-hearted, non-judging, intensely interested listening, our spirits expand.– Sue Patton Thoele

The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.– Rachel Naomi Remen

Being listened to is so close to being loved that most people don’t know the difference.– David Augsburger

The greatest gift you can give another is the purity of your attention.– Richard Moss

The first duty of love is to listen.– Paul Tillich

The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.– Henry David Thoreau

A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he knows something.– Wilson Mizner

Since true listening involves a setting aside of the self, it also temporarily involves a total acceptance of the others. Sensing this acceptance, the speaker will feel less and less vulnerable, and more and more inclined to open up the inner recesses of his or her mind to the listener. As this happens, speaker and listener begin to appreciate each other more and more, and the dance of love is begun again.– M. Scott Peck

Maybe the purpose of being here, wherever we are, is to increase the durability and occasions of love among and between peoples.– June Jordan

The happiest moments of my life have been spent in the flow of affection among friends.– Thomas Jefferson

A friend is a person with whom I may be honest. Before him, I may think aloud.– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.– Author Unknown

If someone does not smile at you, be generous and offer your own smile. Nobody needs a smile more than the one that cannot smile to others.– HH the 14th Dalai Lama

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.– Mother Teresa

Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences though peaceful means, through dialogue, education, knowledge, and through humane ways.– HH the 14th Dalai Lama

To be able to ask a question clearly is two-thirds of the way to getting it answered.– John Ruskin

The words you choose to say something are just as important as the decision to speak.– Author Unknown

Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates. At the first gate, ask yourself, “Is it true?” At the second ask, “Is it necessary?” At the third gate, ask “Is it kind?”– Sufi saying

In the midst of great joy, do not promise anyone anything. In the midst of great anger, do not answer anyone’s letter.– Chinese proverb

If you wouldn’t write it and sign it, don’t say it.– Earl Wilson

Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; argument an exchange of ignorance.– Robert Quillen

Nothing lowers the level of conversation more than raising the voice.– Stanly Horowitz

Not the fastest horse can catch a word spoken in anger.– Chinese proverb

Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.– Ambrose Bierce

I just wish my mouth had a backspace key.– Author Unknown

Oh, the things that go through my mind that I never say. Oh, the things I say that never go through my mind.– Robert Brault

Conversation should be pleasant without scurrility, witty without affectation, free without indecency, learned without conceitedness, novel without falsehood.– William Shakespeare

11-4-13 Weekly Quotes: Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

According to research presented on the October 20, 2013 CBS Sunday Morning report on the science of resilience, three factors essential to bouncing back from the “bad things that happen to good people” are connections to people, positivity, and learning from life’s lessons, themes repeated often in these posts.

Dennis Charney at Mount Zion Medical Center in New York, who has studied post-traumatic stress disorder among many different populations in different situations, including natural disasters and surviving being a prisoner of war, frames positivity as “unshakeable optimism.”

Your optimism may not yet be unshakeable, but it is cultivatable. May these offerings be useful to you and yours.

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.– F. Scott Fitzgerald

Optimist: someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it’s a cha-cha.– Robert Brault

A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.– Harry S. Truman

Both optimists and pessimists contribute to our society. The optimist invents the airplane and the pessimist the parachute.– Gil Stern

The realist sees reality as concrete. The optimist sees reality as clay.– Robert Brault

A pessimist’s blood type is always B-negative.– Author Unknown

It’s still possible to be a cockeyed optimist these days – you just have to be a little more cockeyed.– Robert Brault

Of course I look at the glass half full. The only time I would look at it half empty is when I think about how good the first half tasted.– Drew DeYoung

The average pencil is seven inches long, with just a half-inch eraser – in case you thought optimism was dead.– Robert Brault

An optimist is the human personification of spring.– Susan J. Bissonette

After 5,000 years of recorded human history, you wonder, what part of 2,000,000 sunrises doesn’t a pessimist understand?– Robert Brault

11-11-13 Weekly Quotes: Adversity and Resilience

[A greatly expanded version of July 22, 2013 weekly quotes on Overcoming Adversity.  And a reminder to check out the October 20, 2013 CBS Sunday Morning video report on adversity and resilience.  Concise, poignant, spot-on.]

The art of living lies less in eliminating our troubles than in growing with them.– Bernard M. Baruch

There are some defeats more triumphant than victories.– Michel de Montaigne

Defeat may serve as well as victory to shake the soul and let the glory out.– Edwin Markham

Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.– Garth Brooks

Sometimes in tragedy we find our life’s purpose – the eye sheds a tear to find its focus.– Robert Brault

A bend in the road is not the end of the road…unless you fail to make the turn.– Author Unknown

The problem is not that there are problems.  The problem is expecting otherwise, and thinking that having problems is a problem.– Theodore Rubin

There are more things to alarm us than to harm us, and we suffer more often in apprehension than in reality.– Seneca

Worry gives a small thing a big shadow.– Swedish proverb

That the birds of worry and care fly over your head, this you cannot change; but that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.– Chinese proverb

That some good can be derived from every event is a better proposition than that everything happens for the best, which it assuredly does not.– James K. Feibleman

The turning point in the process of growing up is when you discover the core of strength within you that survives all hurt.– Max Lerner

Adversity is the first path to truth.– Lord Byron

Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant.– Horace

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.– Helen Keller

The difficulties of life are intended to makes us better, not bitter.– Author Unknown

Turn your wounds into wisdom.– Oprah Winfrey

We find comfort among those who agree with us – growth among those who don’t.– Frank A. Clark

The healthy and strong individual is the one who askes for help when he needs it.  Whether he’s got an abscess on his knee or in his soul.– Rona Barrett

We have no right to ask when sorrow comes, “Why did this happen to me?” unless we ask the same questions for every moment of happiness that comes our way.– Author Unknown

Who will tell whether one happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life implies.– Erich Fromm

Birds sing after a storm; why shouldn’t people feel as free to delight/in whatever remains to them?– Rose F. Kennedy

I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.– Agatha Christie

If I had a formula for bypassing trouble, I would not pass it round.  Trouble creates a capacity to handle it.  I don’t embrace trouble; that’s as bad as treating it as an enemy.  But I do say meet it as a friend for you’ll see a lot of it and had better be on speaking terms with it.– Oliver Wendell Holmes

You can’t run away from trouble.  There ain’t no place that far.– Uncle Remus

Sleep, riches, and health to be truly enjoyed must be interrupted.– Johann Paul Friedrich Richter, Flower, Fruit, and Thorn

Diseases can be our spiritual flat tires – disruptions in our lives that seem to be disasters at the time but end by redirecting our lives in a meaningful way.– Bernie S. Siegel

Adversity is like a strong wind.  It tears away from us all the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are.– Arthur Golden

Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them.  Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but the heart to conquer it.– Rabindranath Tagore

We turn to God for help when our foundations are shaking, only to learn that it is God who is shaking them.– Charles C. West

The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man without trials.– Confucius

Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.– African Proverb

I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders.– Jewish proverb

I know God will not give my anything I can’t handle.  I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.– Mother Teresa

11-25-13 Weekly Quotes: Thanksgiving

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.– Meister Eckhart

A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues.– Cicero

Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude.– E.P. Powell

Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year. To the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.– Edward Sandford Martin

He who thanks but with the lips
Thanks but in part;
The full, the true Thanksgiving,
Comes from the heart.– J.A. Shedd

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.– Johannes A. Gaertner

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.– John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day.– Robert Caspar Lintner

Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.– W.J. Cameron

Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.– W.T. Purkiser

Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.– Theodore Roosevelt

O lord that lends me life,
Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.– William Shakespeare

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.– Melody Beattie

God has two dwellings; one in heaven, and the other in a meek and thankful heart.– Izaak Walton

On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence.– William Jennings Bryan

Nothing is more honorable than a grateful heart.– Seneca

Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.– Aesop

Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.– Native American saying

When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep?– George Canning

Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don’t unravel.– Author Unknown

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say “thank you?”– William A. Ward

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.– Thornton Wilder

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food. For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dear Lord, we beg but one boon more:
Peace in the hearts of all men living,
Peace in the whole world this Thanksgiving.– Joseph Auslander

12-2-13 Weekly Quotes: Resilience in Relationships

[I will be speaking December 6, 2013 on “Bouncing Back: Overcoming Disappointments and Disasters in Loving Relationships” for the December 5-9, 2013 Thrive Together Relationships TeleConference. Some initial thoughts on the topic:]

Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That’s why it’s a comfort to go hand in hand.– Emily Kimbrough

Basically, the only thing we need is a hand that rests on our own, that wishes it well, that sometimes guides us.– Hector Bianciott

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh!” he whispered. “Yes, Piglet?” “Nothing,” said Piglet, talking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”– A. A. Milne

No road is long with good company.– Turkish proverb

Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.– Swedish proverb

Once you find someone to share your ups and down, downs are almost as good as ups.– Robert Brault

Trouble is part of your life, and if you don’t’ share it, you don’t’ give the person who loves you enough chance to love you enough.– Dinah Shore

Ah, the comfort,
The inexpressible comfort
Of feeling safe with a person.
Having neither to weigh out thoughts
Nor words,
But pouring them all right out, just as they are,
Chaff and grain together;
Certain that a faithful hand
Will take them and sift them;
Keeping what is worth keeping and,
With the breath of kindness,
Blow the rest away.– Dinah Craik, A Life for a Life, 1859

In the end there doesn’t have to be anyone who understands you. There just has to be someone who wants to.– Robert Brault

Happiness is having a dream you cannot let go of and a partner who would never ask you to.– Robert Brault

Relationship is an art. The dream that two people create is more difficult to master than one.– Don Miguel Ruiz

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Thought the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
As the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you.
Even as his is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height
And caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth….

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart
And in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart.– Kahlil Gibran, excerpt from The Prophet

What we find in a soul mate is not something wild to tame but something wild to run with.– Robert Brault

If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?– Stephen Levine

Sticks and stones are hard on bones
Aimed with angry art,
Words can sting like anything
But silence breaks the heart.– Phyllis McGinley

People change and forget to tell each other.– Lillian Hellman

For the lack of an occasional expression of love, a relationship strong at the seams can wear thin in the middle.– Robert Brault

In the end, who among us does not choose to be a little less right to be a little less lonely.– Robert Brault

To know when to go away and when to come closer is the key to any lasting relationship.– Domenico Cieri Estrada

There are times when two people need to step apart from one another, but there is no rule that says they have to turn and fire.– Robert Brault

There are days when you need someone who just wants to be your sunshine and not the air you breathe.– Robert Brault

Let my love, like sunshine,
Surround you,
Yet give you illumined freedom.– Rabindranath Tagore

Let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread
But eat not from the same loaf.

Sing and dance together and be joyous,
But let each one of you be alone.
Even as the strings of a lute are alone
Though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each others’ keeping.
For only the hand of life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not to near together:
For the pillars of temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.– Kahlil Gibran, excerpt from The Prophet

Once the realization is accepted
that even between the closest human beings
infinite distances continue,
a wonderful living side by side can grow,
if they succeed in loving the distance between them
which makes it possible for each to see the other
whole against the sky.– Rainer Maria Rilke

12-9-13 Weekly Quotes: The Passing of Time – Practicing the Wise Use of Time

[Such is the paradox. In previous ages, this seasonal dormancy and rest after harvest would have been a time of reflection, re-appraisal, re-visioning for the coming year. Now we can lose sight of that wise use of time in the frenetic-ness of holidays, shopping, travel. May these reflections on time be useful in rediscovering the wise use of time, even as its passing speeds up.]

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

I arise in the morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.– E. B. White

Take care of the moments, and the years will take care of themselves.– Matthieu Ricard, quoting ancient Tibetan teachings

One must learn a different sense of time, one that depends more on small amounts than big ones.– Sister Mary Paul

But what minutes! Count them by sensation, and not by calendars, and each moment is a day.– Benjamin Disraeili

An unhurried sense of time is in itself a form of wealth. – Bonnie Friedman

Much may be done in those little shreds and patches of time which every day produces, and which most men throw away.– Charles Caleb Colton

A single day is enough to make us a little larger.– Paul Klee

Time does not change us. It just unfolds us.– Max Frisch

These times of ours are serious and full of calamity, but all times are essentially alike. As soon as there is life, there is danger.– Ralph Waldo Emerson

When people go through something rough in life, they say, ‘I’m taking it one day at a time.” Yes, so is everybody. Because that’s how time works.– Hannibal Buress

Time is at once the most valuable and the most perishable of all our possessions.– John Randolph

What very mysterious things days are. Sometimes they fly by, and other times they seem to last forever, yet they are all exactly twenty-four hours. There’s quite a lot we don’t know about them.– Melanie Benjamin

Time is the most undefinable yet paradoxical of things; the past is gone, the future is not come and the present becomes the past even as we attempt to define it and, like the flash of lightning, at once exists and expires.– Charles Caleb Colton

Times goes, you say? Ah no!
Alas, Time stays, we go.– Henry Austin Dobson

The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on.– Omar Khayyam

Darn the wheel of the world! Why must it continually turn over! Where is the reverse gear?– Jack London

Each moment has its sickle, emulous of time’s enormous scythe, whose ample sweep strikes empires from the root.– Edward Young

Time, the cradle of hope….Wisdom walks before it, opportunity with it, and repentance behind it. He that has made it his friend will have little to fear from his enemies, but he that has made it his enemy will have little to hope for from his friends.– Charles Caleb Colton

All my possessions for a moment of time.– Elizabeth I

Who forces time is pushed back by time; who yields to time finds time on his side.– The Talmud

Time cools, time clarifies; no mood can be maintained quite unaltered through the course of hours.– Mark Twain

Time! The corrector when our judgments err.– Lord Byron

Time heals what reason cannot.– Seneca

Our duty is to preserve what the past has to say for itself, and to say for ourselves what shall be true for the future.– John Ruskin

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.– Carl Sandburg

There are whole years for which I hope I’ll never be cross-examined, for I could not give an alibi.– Mignon McLaughlin

Regret for wasted time is more wasted time.– Mason Cooley

Pick my left pocket of its silver dime, but spare the right – it holds my golden time!– Oliver Wendell Holmes

A good holiday is one spent among people whose notions of time are vaguer than yours.– John B. Priestly

Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.– Guillaume Apollinaire

12-23-13 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

12-30-13 Weekly Quotes: Prayer for a New Year

May you awaken to new beginnings
With an openness of heart
And a quickening of soul.

May you step wholeheartedly into this new year,
To appreciate its abundant sweetness and
To embrace in faith its certain sadness.
May you re-awaken hopes and dreams which
Stretch your creative spirit to give them
Life and substance.

May you be for others:
A herald of change,
A respecter of fears;
A softener of hard edges;
A co-creator of yet-to-be-known meanings;
A midwife to healing;

May you discover for your Self:
The deepest truth of your deepest nature;
A resting in goodness;
An abiding with a peaceful heart;
A living into wholeness.– Linda Graham

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