Silence Is The Sister Of The Divine

Silence is one of the major thresholds in the world. . . . Meister Eckhart said that there is nothing in the world that resembles God so much as silence. Silence is a great friend of the soul; it unveils the riches of solitude. It is very difficult to reach that quality of inner silence. You must make a space for it so that it may begin to work for you. In a certain sense, you do not need the whole armory and vocabulary of therapies, psychologies, or spiritual programs. If you have a trust in and an expectation of your own solitude, everything that you need to know will be revealed to you. These are some wonderful lines from the French poet Rene Char: “Intensity is silent, its image is not. I love everything that dazzles me and then accentuates the darkness within me.” Here is an image of silence as the force that discloses hidden depth. Silence is the sister of the divine.

– John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Open Up To All The Small Miracles You Rushed Through

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.
Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.
Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.
Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.
Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.

– John O’Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

The Presence Of The Divine Is Completely Here

For too long, we have believed that the divine is outside us.  This belief has strained our longing disastrously.  This is so lonely since it is human longing that makes us holy.  The most beautiful thing about us is our longing;  this longing is spiritual and has great depth and wisdom.  If you focus your longing on a faraway divinity, you put an unfair strain on your longing.  Thus it often happens that the longing reaches out towards the distant divine, but, because it over-strains itself, it bends back to become cynicism, emptiness or negativity.  This can destroy your sensibility.  Yet we do not need to put any strain on our longing.  If we believe that the body is in the soul and the soul is divine ground, then the presence of the divine is completely here, close with us.

– John O’Donohue

Arriving In This Present Moment

Yoga is a technology for arriving in this present moment. It is a means of waking up from our spiritual amnesia, so that we can remember all that we already know. It is a way of remembering our true nature, which is essentially joyful and peaceful…Yoga is not about self-improvement or making ourselves better. It is a process of deconstructing all the barriers we may have erected that prevent us from having an authentic connection with ourselves and with the world.

– Donna Farhi, Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit: A Return to Wholeness (p. 5)

Something Immensely Spacious

You are this vastness. This vista you see, this grandeur, this enduring strength — if you go deeply enough inside yourself, you will find not something small but something immensely spacious. This is the essence of the human spirit. This message…had an enormous influence in shaping what I came to see as the purpose of yoga — to reconnect to the original vastness and silence of the mind….This understanding of oneself [should] be not only an intellectual idea but a felt cellular experience in the body.
– Donna Farhi, from the introduction to Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit: A Return to Wholeness

We Are Living From Mystery

Our kitchens and other eating places more and more resemble filling stations, as our homes more and more resemble motels. ‘Life is not very interesting,’ we seem to have decided. ‘Let its satisfactions be minimal, perfunctory, and fast.’ We hurry through our meals to go to work and hurry through our work in order to ‘recreate’ ourselves in the evenings and on weekends and vacations. And then we hurry, with the greatest possible speed and noise and violence, through our recreation — for what? To eat the billionth hamburger at some fast-food joint hellbent on increasing the ‘quality’ of our life? And all this is carried out in a remarkable obliviousness to the causes and effects, the possibilities and the purposes, of the life of the body in this world.

I mentioned earlier the politics, esthetics, and ethics of food. But to speak of the pleasure of eating is to go beyond those categories. Eating with the fullest pleasure — pleasure, that is, that does not depend on ignorance — is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world. In this pleasure we experience and celebrate our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living from mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend. When I think of the meaning of food, I always remember these lines by the poet William Carlos Williams, which seem to me merely honest:

There is nothing to eat,
seek it where you will,
but the body of the Lord.
The blessed plants
and the sea, yield it
to the imagination
intact.

– Wendell Berry, The Pleasures of Eating

Do As You Should Do Now

There isn’t a person who is alive and who has any appetite for living, who doesn’t make plans. I make a plan for every day I live. I’ve got certain things I want to do that day, and if I didn’t, I suppose I wouldn’t do anything. But I can’t help but notice, and I’ve been noticing for a good many years now, that my plans almost never work out. The day almost never exactly fits the plan. Some days depart wildly from the plan. So I conclude that even though you’re going to make plans, if you’re a live human being, one of the things you must learn to do is to take them lightly.

A plan really is useful for signifying to yourself and other people that you like living, that you’re looking forward to living some more, that you have a certain appetite to continue the enterprise. But one’s real duty to the future is to do as you should do now. Make the best choices, do the best work, fulfill your obligations in the best way you can, and work on a scale that’s appropriately small. Make plans that are appropriately small. If you do those things, then the future will take care of itself. But if you don’t do those things, then you build up a debt against the future, which is what we’re doing now.

– Wendell Berry, interviewed by Jordan Fisher-Smith

The Path of Bravery

when-things-fall-apart

After we practice less desire wholeheartedly and consistently, something shifts. We feel less desire in the sense of being less solidly seduced by our Very Important Story Lines. So even if the hot loneliness is there, and for 1.6 seconds we sit with that restlessness when yesterday we couldn’t sit for even one, that’s the journey of the warrior. That’s the path of bravery.

–Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart (p.56)

The Less Glamorous Virtue Of Attentiveness

The mechanic and the doctor deal with failure every day, even if they are expert… This is because the things they fix are not of their own making, and are therefore never known in a comprehensive or absolute way. This experience of failure tempers the conceit of mastery; the doctor and the mechanic have daily intercourse with the world as something independent, and a vivid awareness of the difference between self and nonself. Fixing things may be the cure for narcissism…

…in diagnosing and fixing things made by others (this may be Volkswagon, God, or Natural Selection), one is confronted with obscurities, and must remain constantly open to the signs by which they revel themselves. This openness is incompatible with self-absorption; to maintain it we have to fight our tendency to get anchored in snap judgements. This is easier said then done.

Because the stochastic arts diagnose and fix things that are variable, complex, and not of our own making, and therefore not fully knowable, they require a certain disposition toward the thing you are trying to fix. This disposition is at once cognitive and moral. Getting it right demands that you be attentive in the way of a conversation rather than assertive in the way of a demonstration. I believe the mechanical arts have a special significance for our time because they cultivate not creativity, but the less glamorous virtue of attentiveness. (p. 82)

– Matthew B. Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work