‘I affirm that this is the day that God has made, that it is good, and that I find fulfillment in it.’ Psalms/Science of Mind
’The more spacious and larger our fundamental nature, the more bearable the pains in living.’ -Wayne Muller
’The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains the same, exactly the same. But the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you ar e in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things. Stop being a glass. Become a lake.’ -Mark Nepo
Even if we don’t get a thunderbolt to the mind, we can know that wisdom walks with us every step of the way. -Rev. Dr. Margaret Stortz
[Photo: South-Central Idaho]
“It was a curious thing. Robert had filled the bathtub and put the fish in the tub so he could clean their tank. After he’d scrubbed the film from the small walls of their make-believe deep, he went to retrieve them.
He was astonished to find that, though they had the entire tub to swim in, they were huddled in a small area the size of their tank. There was nothing to contain them, nothing holding them back. Why wouldn’t they dart about freely? What had life in the talk done to their natural ability to swim?
It makes me wonder now, in middle age, if being spontaneous and kind and curious are all parts of our natural ability to swim. Each time I hesitate to do the unplanned or unexpected, or hesitate to reach and help another, or hesitate to inquire into something I know nothing about; each time I ignore the impulse to run in the rain or to call you up just to say I love you–I wonder, am I turning on myself, swimming safely in the middle of the tub?”
19th & Irving
I wake this morning with a sadness.
Can’t find it. Can’t shake it. But with
my third coffee, I notice the French doors on the balcony across the street,
They seem to speak in a language no one hears
unless sad. Suddenly, the whole world depends
on the thin opening of these doors: on what
they let in, on what they let out. Like my mind,
or your heart. All day I look for opened doors;
left open, blown open, broken open. Doors
whose latches have finally worn down. Is this
what sadness is for: to wear our latches down?
The Way Under the Way; The Place of True Meeing
Ubuntu greeting, friends:
‘I am what I am because of who we all are’.
‘As night and day take turns on this massive Earth spinning nowhere, the song we share within takes turns with the catastrophes of living. When we go silent, the age goes dark.’
“We all have traveled this same pathway of experience – – the journey of the soul to ‘the heights above’ – – and always there has been a deep inquiry in our minds: What is it all about? Does life make sense? What is the meaning of birth, human experience, and the final transition from this plane, which we call death?
With the Koran we must realize that the Divine is closer to us even than our physical being. Nothing can be nearer to us than which is the very essence of our own being.
Our external search after Reality culminates in the greatest of all possible discoveries – – Reality is at the center of our own being. Life is from within out.
We must no longer judge according to appearances, but rather, base our judgments on the assumption that the Gaia-Mind dwells within us proclaimed or reflects Itself through us into every act.
I shall speak this Reality into every experience I have.”
[Science of Mind]
Mind is Brahma; for from mind even are verily born these beings–by mind, when born, they live.
The Mind, then, is not separated off from God’s essentiality, but is united to it, as light to sun.
Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of our own mind.
Grace filled transitions to you, to us all. Ubuntu.
- Spirit of Life
- Giver of Life
- Breath of LIfe
- Wakan Tanka
- Tara & Lakshmi
Shirley goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives…
I have just three things to teach:
These are your greatest treasures.
compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.
︶⁀°• •° ⁀︶
…when we tend our deepest center, we care for all souls. Another powerful way to realize our interconnectedness is to imagine the human family as a stand of Aspens growing by a river. Though each tree appears to be growing independently, not attached to the others, beneath the soil, out of view, the roots of all the trees exist as one enormous root. And so, like these trees, our soul’s growth, while appearing to be independent, is intimately connected to the health of those around us. For our spirits are entwined at center, out of view.
I know these things to be true: in cutting off strangers, we cut off ourselves; in choking roots, we choke our own growth; in loving strangers, we love ourselves.
︶⁀°• •° ⁀︶
‘Dad missed the wilderness. He need to be in roaming free in open country and living among untamed animals. He felt i was good for your should to have buzzards and coyotes and snakes around. That was the way man was meant to live, he’d say, in harmony with the wild, like t he Indians, not this lords-of-the-earth crap, trying to rule the entire goddamn planet, cutting down all the forest and killing every creature you couldn’t bring to heel.’
Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle
So God created man in his own image…and God blessed them and God said unto them…replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have domino over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
The Bible’s literal interpretation continues to damage and destroy life.
I rise above the sense of separation into a consciousness of my union with [all living spirits.]
Science of Mind
‘Older now, you find holiness in anything that continues.’
-Naomi Shihab Nye
‘The longer I wake on this Earth, the louder the quiet things speak to me. The more I experience and survive, the more I find truth in the commonalities we all share. The more pain softens me, the deeper my joy and the greater the lessons of those things that live in great stillness.’
‘As outraged as we might be at the sight of injustice, we must remain equally excited by the possibilities for a better world that lie on the other side of it. The enlightened activist is committed because we know that the other world exists and all of us are here to bring it forth.’
‘It is essential to realize and embrace the paradox that while no one can go through your journey for you, you are not alone. Everyone is on the same journey. Everyone shares the same pains, the same confusions, the same fears, which if put out between us, lose their edges and so cut us less.’ -Mark Nepo
‘There’s a sun in every person–the you we call companion.‘ -Rumi
‘When closing makes us insular, we tighten and miss the depth of everything. We start to become wall-builders. When fearful, we harden and impose our fear on everything we meet. We start to hammer our amor into place. This is the cost of closing without opening.
But when we can open info what feels real and true, especially after great fear or pain, our heart widens like an inlet and we ready ourselves for grace.
For the most part, walls are useless. It’s meeting the sensations of being alive that cleanses us and shapes us, the way fast current scour the bottom of a river, making the river stronger.
If you try to comprehend air
before breathing it,
you will die.
We can only consider things so long. After a while, all the information – – all the options and opinions – – will begin to weight us down. After our deeper eyes have seen the situation, all the well-meaning voices telling us what we should or should not do will start to feel like strings we can’t cut through.
It is natural enough to be cautious and thoughtful, especially when faced with important decisions, but often the only way to know what awaits us is to live it.
This brings to mind the revelation that came upon a Hindu sage centuries ago, One day in the middle of their morning prayers, the sage suddenly rose and ushered his students away from the monastery. He rushed about them and shooed them back into life like little ducks, proclaiming, “the day is to be experienced, not understood.”
° Center ourself while holding a glass of water and an empty cup.
° Consider the choices that away you while during the water from one glass to the other.
° When you tire of the pouring, breathe deeply and drink the water.
° Now enter your life.
Mark Nepo/Book of Awakening
Random is the instant a horse at full speed has all four hooves off the ground.
It refers to the mystery of unbridled passion, to the lift that results from total immersion and surrender. In our age, however, random means without design, method, or purpose. It refers to utter chance. It helps us dismiss whatever appears to be beyond the control of our will. If we didn’t author it, it must be accidental.
Yet our lives are full of unexpected surges of kindness that seem to come from nowhere. Just when you’re thirsty, a cup is gathered and passed around. Just when you are lonely to the point of snapping that bone way inside that you show no one, someone offers you a ride or steadies the grocery bag about to drop from your grip. Just when you feel nothing can raise your sad head from the lonely road, the deer strutter across the road in exact rhythm with Handel.
For us, the moment at random is the moment of holding nothing back, of giving our all to whatever situation is before us. In that charged moment, we come as close to flying as human beings can – – we soar briefly with a passion for life that brings everything within us to meet our daily world.
We flow to each other’s aid, often without knowing where we are headed. Mysteriously, the life force heals itself this way. And what we call ‘chance’ or ‘luck’ or coincidence’ is the circulation of life healing itself through us and in us.
-Mark Nepo/’The Book of Awakening’ pp. 626-263
- Do one thing at random today.
- Hold nothing back. Allow what touches you to change your path.
‘Enlightenment is the moment we realize that we are made of love. At that moment, all fear of living disappears. For grace comes to the heart when it realizes what it is made of and what it has risen from. In that moment, grace comforts us, that no matter the joy or pain along the way, we are already a part of where we are going. Enlightenment for a heart on Earth is the moment we accept that it is the loving that makes waves of us all, again and again and again.’
-Mark Nept/Book of Awakening
Love is like a soft, warm light, warming the heart and glowing in every atom of being, radiating out into the farthest corners of our experience.
Heaven is within woman. This is why Jesus prayed to this indwelling “I am” and said: “Our Father/Mother which art in Heaven,” and again he said: “The Kingdom of heaven is within you.”
-Science of Mind, p. 365
‘This is the story of our human incarnation on the planet. We continue to die daily and to be reborn again. Surprisingly, yes, there is more to forgive, more to embrace about our own humanity and the humanity of our brothers and sisters who have chosen to walk with us. Our human incarnation is a holy walk when we choose to see it as such. It is a deliverance from the fears and doubts that may plague us in the beginning but which cannot withstand the onslaught of all-encompassing love of Gaia.
How grateful I am that throughout all of it, I have been so loved, so guided and so cared for. This is the promise for those who are courageous enough to stay the course. The expanded love you embrace with each resurrection never dies, and you are in love for the rest of your life.’
-Rev. Karen S. Wylie
‘To practice the Presence of God is to awaken within us the Christ Consciousness. Christ is God in the soul of woman. The resurrection is the death of the belief that we are separated from God. For death is to the illusion alone and not to Reality God did not die. What happened was that woman awoke to life.’
-Science of Mind, p. 413
‘Today I imbibe new ideas from the creativity of Gaia. My whole consciousness is alive and awake and aware. It is impregnated with Divine ideas and shall bear fruit after the image of the impression conceived within it and the Divine imprint made upon it. Today, then, I expect new ways of doing things; I expect to meet new people, form new friendships; I expect everything in my experience to enlarge and deepen and broaden. I expect more good that I have every experienced before, and today I expect to give out more, to increase my love for others. Today I expect from myself a more gently approach to life, a more kindly feeling, a more beneficent impulse. New thoughts, new ideas, new people, new situations, new ways of doing things, and a new influx of the Divine will make this day perfect, glad, and expressive limitless bounty from the storehouse of the Infinite Good.’
-Science of Mind
Mark Nepo/’The One Life We’re Given’
A difficult paradox in the life of feeling is that when we are most sensitive, the heart is at its strongest. In such moments, our experience of deep love and suffering can feel intolerable. But this means the heart is working. Feeling such intense sensitivity is evidence of what a finely tuned instrument the heart is. Being so sensitive, life can feel unbearable even while the heart that guides us is going strong. Our challenge is to learn from both the sensitivity and the strength.
When strong enough to endure life’s irritations, the soul we carry can issue a pearl. If able to endure the pressures that life puts on us, the heart can be compressed into a small diamond. The word ‘diamond’, from the ancient Greek ‘adamas’, means ‘unbreakable.’ When most sensitive, we’re being compressed into what is unbreakable.
What’s unbreakable waits behind what’s unbearable, the way the quenching waters of life wait behind all the dams we build. And all my attempts to love have taught me that resilience waits in the very center for all that’s broken to be swept away in order to reveal what can’t be broken. Though the process of shedding feels unbearable, we have to endure this in order to uncover what is lasting and true.
Inevitably, crossing into life for love is what saves us. At unexpected times, our care leads us to dive into the world to save something we love by holding it close to our heart.
We resist this process of being irritated into a pearl, of being pressurized into a diamond. Yet each of us has to feel our way into the authenticity of a self from which to meet others and the world, only to be opened beyond the defines of a single self, so we can be renewed and vitalized by what we have in common. For what is unbearable is acutely personal, which when endured leads us to the seed of what is universal, which is unbreakable. When we can earn the presence of being completely ourselves we join a lineage of those who were completely themselves. Feeling our way into this kinship lets us feel the presence of souls across time.
What feels unbearable is how life carves us into a work of art that is never finished. When in difficult experiences, we fear they will never end. When in wonderful experiences, we fear they will end. But there’s no arrival, only inhabiting the journey, alone and together. The cycle of life and our engagement in it never stays the same. It rises and falls. It compresses and expands. And staying committed to this roller coaster that spins us upside down is how we experience all of life and all of time through the depth of our own feeling.
When I can inhabit the fullness of my own humanity, I reach the bottom of my personality, and through the thoroughness of living the one life I have, I touch into the well of all humanity. It’s there that resilience lives. And feeling what is mine to feel to the best of my ability enables me to feel the swell of everyone who ever lived. It’s there that I know in my bones that I am not alone. It’s there that I am buoyed and uplifted by the One Eternal Heart we are all a part of.
It’s as if the heart is a wick and the soul is its flame, and the burn of the soul feeding off the air of the world feels unbearable as it shapes us. But as long as it burns, we’re alive and unbreakable.
I am because you are, you are because I am.
It is something that I have always believed in that in the ignited space of our deepest suffering, in the release of our deepest fears, in the familiar peace of our deepest joys, we are each other. I have been finding it in every path, in every way … in Martin Buber’s sense of I-Thou, where only in keeping what-is-between-us real can God appear … in the gift of Jesus, where two or more of you come together, there I am … in the one compassion of Buddha … in the numinous love that ancient stones manage if we are still enough to bow to them. Ubuntu … I am because you are, even in how we live off the breath of plants, you are because I am, even in how plants live off our exhalations.
We need each other to be complete.
-Mark Nepo’s, The Book of Awakening
Love, friendship, creativity, pain, and loss are agents of grace, as are surprise, beauty, grief, and wonder.
When the soul expresses itself, we experience enlivened arcs of grace in which we feel the force of life that runs through everything. Anything that moves us to carry our soul out into the world is a catalyst of grace. In this way, love, friendship, creativity, pain, and loss are agents of grace. And while experience wears us down to what’s essential so the soul can stop being encased, it also takes daily effort to let our soul out and an open heart to the let the world in, so we can spark ourselves alive and finally be of use.
Like it or not, we’re opened by the hard, sweet journey of being human, until we’re sparked and work into a gateway for life-force.
The One Life We’re Given, by Mark Nepo
It is Gandhi who eases my heart and reminds me (again) how we give love to the one who gives face to the greatest pain.
‘There is a story of Gandhi that reveals how profound and daring his sense of compassion was. It occurred during one of his famous hunger strikes. A man whose daughter was killed came in anguish, saying to Gandhi that he would stop fighting if the great soul would eat. But Gandhi knew the healing was deeper than just stopping the violence, and so he told the man he would eat only when the tormented father embraced the man who killed his daughter.
It is said that the man collapsed in tears, but did as Gandhi asked, and the larger conflict ended. This is an enormous thing to ask of someone in grief, of someone who has been violated. But beyond the vast courage needed to incorporate this kind of love into our daily lives, Gandhi’s request reveals the irrefutable wisdom that only when the broken are healed, no mater what they have done, will we as people heal.’
[Mark Nepo, The book of Awakening, p. 179]
Taliesin Namkai-Meche, 23, was my son’s friend at Reed College in Portland. Taliesin was a year older than my son, William; my son graduated just a few weeks ago. Taliesin’s girlfriend, Ellie, is a friend of our family’s. When my son first learned one of the victim’s in the Portland massacre was his friend he cried, “No. Not Taliesin.” He is crushed. And Ellie, broken.
When the the hate-filled and mis-guided man was arraigned in a Portland court and his outbursts recorded, I felt my heart harden. ‘Hate’ is a word that was not allowed to be spoken in our little family. My son and daughter were encouraged to find a different word, or express their thoughts in another way. The hate I was feeling surprised and confused me. When I first looked upon the face that could cause so much pain and alter so many lives for false ideology, I tried at that moment to understand what could have happened in his life to cause him to violently take the lives of two beautiful beings, gravely injure a third, and force two young girls to process this horrific event over the course of their lives. My son could not look upon his face.
Then, the hatred I felt for him, and for all in our country who have been given a fast lane to expose their bigoted and racist vitriol, began to manifest. This event, for me, is the final culmination of a depleting and damaging presidential campaign, and the subsequent reality of living in a country so divided and angry that I do not see a path forward under any peripheral leadership.
Guided by Universal grace I was reminded of Gandhi’s story, and my heart began to release the awful hate.
Taliesen, Rick Best, and Micah Fletcher stood up to hate and violence. They were brave and altruistic in motive and heart. They are true patriots, and what I believe America to be, or has the potential to be. We, too, as a nation, are broken. To heal, we must help and embrace, show kindness and compassion, interpersonally, and in our communities, every day. Every. Single. Day.
Taliesin and Ellie spent their last hours together working in their garden and sharing dinner in Taliesin’s new home. He created a community space for Ellie and their friends. He wanted to marry and have children. Together they hoped to plant a ‘Bleeding Heart’ bush, the one with the tiny heart-shaped flowers.
The fall-out from this tragedy has altered my own personal trajectory. I will not permit these deaths to be senseless, only a constant reminder of, as favorite professor Dr. David Peat reminded me, Infinite Potential. The potential of one love, one mind, one body, one spirit.
Thank you, Taliesin. For being a tender friend to my son, for reminding me in your transition the tremendous infinite possibility of kindness, compassion, and love.
My son and I toasted you the evening before he left for his own life’s potential.Here’s to you, sweet Taliesin. We will always feel your light, your grace, your gift, and your love.
“I see more clearly than ever before that my Divine birthright is freedom, peace, joy, and eternal goodness. I perceive that this same birthright is bequeathed to all people. This power I use for my own and every other person’s good.”
[Science of Mind]
The universe […] a world of endless possibility and endless cycle, a world in which life forms come and go, a world itself that has erupted and reformed countless times.
Although fairness and justice are beautiful gravities by which we as human creatures try to live with one another […] the molecules of experience do not understand what is fair. They just bombard us in the endless cosmic dance of life that just keeps happening.
Hindu tradition has a deity known as Vishnu, destroying and bestower of life…in that order.
Life is not fair, but unending in its capacity to change us; that compassion is fair and feeling is just; and that we are not responsible for all that befalls us, only for how we receive it and for how we hold each other up along the way.
‘As the sun spilled over the face of the [tree], I realized that just as gravity will always pull things to the Earth’s center, the life-force of the Universe will always emanate from its center into the world.’
‘The sun doesn’t stop shining
because some of us are blind.
The birds don’t stop singing
because some of us are deaf.
The heart doesn’t stop loving because some of us are afraid.
What lets the flower in the forest
bloom though no one is watching?’
Only love, with no thought of return,
can soften the point of suffering.
‘Water in its clear softness fills the whatever hole it finds. It is not skeptical or distrusting. It does not say this gully is too deep or that field is too open.
Like water, the miracle of love is that it covers whatever it touches, making the touched thing grow while leaving no trace of its touch.
Most things break instead of transform because they resist. The quiet miracle of love is that without our interference, it, like water, accepts whatever is tossed or dropped or place into it, embracing it completely.
Of course, we are human and are easily hurt if not loved back or if loved poorly. But we waste so much of life’s energy be deliberating who and what shall be worthy of our love when in the deepest elemental sense, these choices are not in our province, anymore that rain can choose what it shall fall upon.
And over a lifetime, the pain of withholding this great and quiet force is more damaging than the pain of being rejected or loved poorly.
For love, like water, can be dammed, but toward what end?’
-Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening
Like leafless trees waiting for morning, something as great and as constant as the Earth holds us up and turns us ever so slowly toward the light. Our task is only to be rooted and patient.
Mysterious as it is – no matter our pain or excitement, our drama or circumstance – – all that we could hope for is here. We lack nothing.
‘…humility is accepting that your head belongs beneath your heart, with your thinking subordinate to your feeling, with your will subordinate to the higher order. This acceptance is key to receiving grace.’