The birds have vanished into the sky, and now the last cloud drains away. We sit together, the mountain and me, until only the mountain remains. Ram Dass tells of a student who went to a Zen master. Not a dead Zen master. As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.
Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. First I was dying to finish high school and start college. And then I was dying to finish college and start working. And then I was dying to marry and have children. And then I was dying for my children to grow old enough for school so I could return to work.
And then I was dying to retire.
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And now, I am dying And suddenly realize I forgot to live. I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty. In my walks, I would fain return to my senses. What business have I in the woods if I am thinking of something out of the woods? Our bodies know they belong, It's our minds that make our lives so homeless. Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded.
Why face your fears?
It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity. Could we have no agenda when we walk into a room with another person, not know what to say, not make that person wrong or right? Could we see, hear, feel other people as they really are? But true communication can happen only in that open space. Holiness comes wrapped in the ordinary. There are burning bushes all around you.
Every tree is full of angels. Hidden beauty is waiting in every crumb. Every part of our personality that we do not love will become hostile to us. If you have embarked on this journey of self-reflection, you may be at a place that everyone, sooner or later, experiences on the spiritual path. You have a choice whether to open or close, whether to hold on or let go, whether to harden or soften, whether to hold your seat or strike out. That choice is presented to you again and again and again.
I sought my soul, But my soul I could not see. I sought my God, But my God eluded me. I sought my brother, And found all three. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace. 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. There is nothing you can do to improve your soul. There is nothing you can do to stain your soul. I believe that the only true religion consists of having a good heart. The further I wake into this life, the more I realize that God is everywhere and the extraordinary is waiting quietly beneath the skin of all that is ordinary.
Light is in both the broken bottle and the diamond, and music is in both the flowing violin and the water dripping from the drainage pipe. Yes, God is under the porch as well as on top of the mountain, and joy is in both the front row and the bleachers, if we are willing to be where we are. We can stop struggling with what occurs and see its true face without calling it the enemy. It helps to remember that our spiritual practice is not about accomplishing anything - not about winning or losing - but about ceasing to struggle and relaxing as it is. That is what we are doing when we sit down to meditate.
That attitude spreads into the rest of our lives. Most of us need to be reminded that we are good, that we are lovable, that we belong. Our relationships have the potential to be a sacred refuge, a place of healing and awakening. With each person we meet, we can learn to look behind the mask and see the one who longs to love and be loved. Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in the eyes of the Divine.
If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed. Enlightenment does exist. It is possible to awaken. Unbounded freedom and joy, oneness with the Divine, awakening into a state of timeless grace - these experiences are more common than you know, and not far away.
There is one further truth, however: They don't last. Our realizations and awakenings show us the reality of the world, and they bring transformation, but they pass. We all know that after the honeymoon comes the marriage. After the election comes the hard task of governance. In spiritual life it is the same: After the ecstasy comes the laundry. When we think that something is going to bring us pleasure, we really don't know what's going to happen. When we think something is going to give us misery, we don't know. Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all.
We try to do what we think is going to help. But we don't know. We never know if we're going to fall flat or sit up tall. When there's a big disappointment, we don't know if that's the end of the story. It may be just the beginning of a great adventure. Life is like that. We call something bad; we call it good.
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But really we just don't know. With spiritual maturity Integrated and personal spiritual practice includes our work, our love, our families, and our creativity. It understands that the personal and the universal are inextricably connected, that the universal truths of spiritual life can come alive only in each particular and personal circumstance.
How we live is our spiritual life. As one wise student remarked, 'If you really want to know about a Zen master, talk to their spouse. Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous to be understood Let me keep my distance, always, from those who think they have the answers. Let me keep company always with those who say 'Look! Your generosity toward others is key to your positive experiences in the world.
Story Behind the Song: 'Something That We Do'
Know that there's enough room for everyone to be passionate, creative, and successful. In fact, there's more than room for everyone; there's a need for everyone. Don't think the purpose of meditation is to go deep into consciousness, wrap a blanket around yourself, and say, 'How cozy!
I'm going to curl up in here by myself; let the world burn. We go deep into meditation so that we can reach out further and further to the world outside. You are not a drop in the ocean, You are the entire ocean in a drop. Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death. If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry.
He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well. Paradise is thus not so much a place, as liberation into the fullness and bounty of everyday experience. When we make music we don't do it in order to reach a certain point, such as the end of the composition. If that were the purpose of music then obviously the fastest players would be the best.
Also, when we are dancing we are not aiming to arrive at a particular place on the floor as in a journey. When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point. And exactly the same thing is true in meditation. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment. Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.
One day I asked Kassie [Temple] the question that had been vexing me: "How do you keep doing this hard, heart-wrenching work when you know you'll wake up tomorrow to problems that are as bad or worse than the ones you're dealing with today? What if our religion was each other? If our practice was our life? If prayer was our words? What if the Temple was the Earth?
If forests were our church? If holy water - the river, lakes and oceans?
What if meditation was our relationships? If the Teacher was life? If wisdom was self-knowledge? If love was the center of our being? As often happens on the spiritual journey, we have arrived at the heart of a paradox: each time a door closes, the rest of the world opens up. All we need to do is stop pounding on the door that has just closed, turn around - which puts the door behind us - and welcome the largeness of life that now lies open to our souls. The door that closed kept us from entering a room, but what now lies before us is the rest of reality.
In the end, these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you learn to let go? You and I appear to be separate. We differ in color, size, and shape Beneath this apparent division, however, hidden deep within each of us is the one Self - eternal, infinite, ever-perfect.
This is the closely guarded secret of life: that we are all caught up in a divine masquerade, and all we are trying to do is take off our masks to reveal the pure, perfect Self within. Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him you will see yourself. As you treat him you will treat yourself.
As you think of him you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself. As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison. Let us encourage one another with spiritual friendship, conversations that are uplifting, and remembrance of our sacred purpose in life. Doing shit you do like involves very focused work, and putting in the time and effort.
But luckily, working toward more shit you like can be extremely motivating. Ditch that networking event.
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Stop saying yes to every single project that falls into your lap. There also needs to be an internalization step where you ask yourself some sometimes tough questions: Is this something I care about? Does this conflict with my values, personality, or style? Is this how I want to spend my day? Will this light me up and want to keep me going? Next, you have to come up with a strategy. Try involving other people; positive social pressure can provide the impetus to get something done.
So how do you get moving in these types of situations? Instead, motivation is simply one or more reasons you have for acting in a certain way. You can decide to do something without ever getting excited about it by finding a personally meaningful why. Even if we never feel particularly motivated by a task, we can find a reason to move forward by looking beyond the task to the results.
The second step for success involves coming up with a strategy for getting tasks done when you have a low to non-existent emotional drive. Depending on the task and your work style, one or more of these strategies may help. One set of action-taking methods includes involving other people in the process.