The Journey
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Mary Oliver ~

 


 

Every spiritual path takes the seeker to the place of no return, where we have to embrace the situation that hurts us most.

Along this ancient road we are taken one by one, crying our own tears, feeling the terrible futility of our own efforts. To surrender is to accept what has been given annd not to ask that it be otherwise; and yet this contradicts every human desire to change and improve our situation, to accept the pain, the difficulty, the despair goes against our nature, our need to struggle.

 


 

The great Indian teacher, Nisargadatta Maharaj, once said, “Wisdom tells me I am nothing. Love tells me I am everything. Between the two my life flows.” “I am nothing” does not mean that there is a bleak wasteland within. It does mean that with awareness we open to a clear, unimpeded space, without center or periphery nothing separate. If we are nothing, there is nothing at all to serve as a barrier to our boundless expression of love. Being nothing in this way, we are also, inevitably, everything. “Everything” does not mean

self-aggrandizement, but a decisive recognition of interconnection; we are not separate. Both the clear, open space of “nothing” and the interconnectedness of “everything” awaken us to our true nature.

This is the truth we contact when we meditate, a sense of unity beyond suffering. It is always present; we merely need to be able to access it.

 

When does gold ore become gold? When it is put through a process of fire. So the human being during the training becomes as pure as gold through suffering. It is the burning away of the dross. Suffering has a great redeeming quality. As a drop of water falling on the desert sand is sucked up immediately, so we must become nothing and nowhere… we must disappear.

~ Bhai Sahib~ 

 


 

I walk alone on country paths, rice plants and wild grasses on both sides, putting each foot down on the earth in mindfulness, knowing that I walk on the wondrous earth. In such moments, existence is a miraculous and mysterious reality.

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

Thich Nhat Hanh, “Miracle of Mindfulness”

 


 

THIS IS MY PRAYER

Give me the supreme courage of love, this is
My prayer – the courage to speak, to do, to suffer
At Your will, to leave all things or be left alone.
Strengthen me on errands of danger, honour me
With pain, and help me climb to that difficult mood
That sacrifices daily to You.

Give me the supreme confidence of love, this
is my prayer – the confidence that belongs to life
in death, to victory in defeat, to the power hidden
in the frailest beauty, to that dignity in pain which
accepts hurt but disdains to return it.

Rabindranath Tagore.

 


 

BEYOND DESPAIR

In desperate hope, I go and search for her in
All the corners of my room; I find her not.

My house is small, and what once has gone
From it can never be regained.

But infinite is Your mansion, my God; and
Seeking her, I have come to Your door.

I stand under the golden canopy of Your
Evening sky, and I lift my eager eyes to Your face.

I have come to the brink of eternity from
Which nothing can vanish – no hope, no
Happiness, no vision of a face seen through tears.

Oh, dip my emptied life into the ocean,
Plunge it into the deepest fullness. Let me, for
once, feel that lost, sweet touch in the allness of
The universe.

Rabindranath Tagore.

 


 

THE GRASP OF YOUR HAND

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
For the heart to conquer it.

Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved,
But hope for the patience to win my freedom.

Grant me that I may not be a coward, feeling
Your mercy in my success alone; but let me find
The grasp of Your hand in my failure.

Rabindranath Tagore, Selected and edited by Herbert F. Vetter.

(Tagore suffered a series of tragedies in his life – some in quick succession – His wife died and shortly after he lost his daughter, his father and his youngest son. His mother died when he was thirteen. And he also lost a beloved sister-in-law who committed suicide.)


 

“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” (Jung, 1967)

 


 

Lovingkindness‘, by Sharon Salzberg,

The practice of metta, uncovering the force of love that can uproot fear, anger, and guilt, begins with befriending ourselves. The foundation of metta practice is to know how to be our own friend. According to the Buddha, “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” How few of us embrace ourselves in this way! With metta practice we uncover the possibility of truly respecting ourselves. We discover, as Walt Whitman put it, “I am larger and better than I thought. I did not think I held so much goodness.”

 


 

Metta Sutta

This is what should be done
By those who are skilled in goodness,
And who know the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech.
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied.
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
Peaceful and calm, and wise and skillful,
Not proud and demanding in nature.
Let them not do the slightest thing
That the wise would later reprove.
Wishing: in gladness and in safety,
May all beings be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be;
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to-be-born –
May all beings be at ease!
Let none deceive another,
Or despise any being in any state.
Let none through anger or ill-will
Wish harm upon another.
Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings;
Radiating kindness over the entire world:
Spreading upward to the skies,
And downward to the depths;
Outward and unbounded,
Freed from hatred and ill-will.
Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down,
Free from drowsiness,
One should sustain this recollection.
This is said to be the sublime abiding.
By not holding to fixed views
The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision,
Being freed from all sense desires,
Is not born again into this world.

The Buddha’s Words on Lovingkindness.

 


 

“The lamps are different,
But the light is the same.” (Rumi)

 


 

Every spiritual path takes the seeker to the place of no return, where we have to embrace the situation that hurts us most.

Along this ancient road we are taken one by one, crying our own tears, feeling the terrible futility of our own efforts. To surrender is to accept what has been given annd not to ask that it be otherwise; and yet this contradicts every human desire to change and improve our situation, to accept the pain, the difficulty, the despair goes against our nature, our need to struggle.

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

 


 

Writing on the necessity of dealing with the dark side of ourselves before finding peace, the ancient Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu tells us the following story:

There was a man
who was so disturbed
by the sight of his own shadow
and so displeased with his own footsteps
that he determined to get rid of both.
The method he hit upon was to run away from them.
So he got up and ran.
But every time he put his foot down
there was another step,
while his shadow kept up with him
without the slightest difficulty.
He attributed his failure
to the fact that he was not running fast enough.
So he ran faster and faster, without stopping,
until he finally dropped dead.
He failed to realize that if he merely stepped into the shade,
his shadow would vanish,
and if he sat down and stayed still, there would be no more footsteps.

Source: Thomas Merton, The Way of Chuang Tzu, Copyright 1965, by The Abbey of Gethsemani. New Directions Publishing Corp.

 


 

The Prayer of St Francis.

Lord, make me an instrument of
Your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow
Love,
Where there is injury, pardon,
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light,
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine master
May I not so much seek to be consoled, as to console,
To be understood, as to understand,
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying to the self,
That we are born to eternal life.