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An eye for an eye makes
the whole world blind. - Mahatma Gandhi
You never change something by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
PATHS & RUTS
There are paths and ruts in the spirit world as there are in the physical and mental world. One must take the tools of the spirit world and make one's own path rather than exactly follow the paths of those who once were . . . You must not seek their path and their understanding, but you must seek your own. The ruts of the spirit are trying to follow others and it cannot be done.
...I was indecisive and unsure of myself. I was always making excuses for myself. I was full of self pity...Don Juan turned my eyes outward and taught me how to see the magnificence of the world and how to accumulate personal power.
....death stands to your left. ...After all, death is in no hurry. He will get you tomorrow or next week or in fifty years. It makes no difference to him. The moment you remember you must eventually die, you are cut down to the right size. When there is no way of knowing whether I have one more minute of life, I must live as if this is my last moment. Each act is the warrior's last battle. So everything must be done impeccably. Nothing can be left pending....when death stands to your left, you must create your world by a series of decisions. There are no large or small decisions, only decisions that must be made now.
People do not respond for long to small and self-centered purposes or to self-aggrandizing work. Too many organizations ask us to engage in hollow work, to be enthusiastic about small-minded visions, to commit ourselves to selfish purposes, to engage our energy in competitive drives. Those who offer us this petty work hope we won't notice how lifeless it is. They hope that life's great motions are somehow absent from us.
When we respond with disgust, when we withdraw our energy from such endeavors, it is a sign of our commitment to life and to each other. Like all life, we can pursue a direction only towards wholeness. Like all life, we learn to sidestep the fearful minds that keep us from the great cohering motions which give meaning to our lives.
"There is only one dance," writes T S Eliot. "There is only the dance of coherence, and it is the only dance which brings us joy."
I remember a despairing white father in the Belgian Congo saying to me just before the debacle . . . "there is another great age of darkness closing in on the life of man and all that we can do is to create little fortresses wherein the authentic light of the spirit can be kept burning so that one day, when men wish to reach out for the light again, they will have places in which to find it. But, for the rest, we must just accept the inevitability of disaster."
You may well be right, and disaster may well come,' I had told him. But for me it will always be a point of honour to go on working to prevent disaster, if only to make certain it is the right kind of disaster life needs when it does ultimately come."
It was not the beautiful or pleasant feelings that gave me new insight, but the ones against which I fought most strongly: feelings that made me experience myself as shabby, petty, mean, helpless, humiliated, demanding, resentful or confused, and above all, sad and lonely. It was precisely through these experiences, which I had shunned for so long, that I became certain that I now understood something about my life, stemming from the core of my being, something that I could not have learned from any book.
If you waste all your time trying to learn how to read other people's minds or master the secret sword techniques instead of working on your own damn self, you have missed the point of the exercise . . .
Man wants his physical fulfillment first and foremost, since now, once and once only, he is in the flesh and potent. For man, the vast marvel is to be alive. For man, as for flower and beast and bird, the supreme triumph is to be most vividly, most perfectly alive ....The dead may look after the afterwards. But the magnificent here and now of life in the flesh is ours, and ours alone, and ours only for a time. We ought to dance with rapture that we should be alive and in the flesh, and part of the living, incarnate cosmos.
- D. H. Lawrence
It takes so much to be a full human being that there are very few who have the enlightenment or the courage to pay the price. One has to abandon altogether the search for security and reach out to the risk of living with both arms. One has to embrace the world like a lover. One has to accept pain as a condition of existence. One has to court doubt and darkness as the cost of knowing. One needs a will stubborn in conflict, but apt always to total acceptance of every consequence of living and dying.
The cherub with the flaming sword is hereby commanded to leave his guard at the tree of life, and when he does, the whole creation will be consumed, and appear infinite, and holy, whereas it now appears finite and corrupt. This will come to pass by an empowerment of sensual enjoyment. But first the notion that man has a body distinct from his soul is to be expunged. If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is: infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' the narrow chinks of his cavern.
"'Mediocre' tends to mean 'undistinguished', while snobs enjoy their distinguishing hallmarks of style - how they wear clothes, use words, where they go and gather and gossip. ...Whatever the circumstances the genius has put you into, the fact of individuality defends the soul against all class-action claims. No soul is mediocre, whatever your personal taste for conventionality, whatever your personal record of middling achievements."
Brother David Steindl-Rast: Among the many things that profoundly impress me about the Dalai Lama, quite high up on the list is his ability to say "I don't know". I've often wished that other people in prominent positions wouldn't feel the compulsion to have an answer for everything and would feel equally free to say "I don't know." It's a sign of wisdom to know that you don't know and a sign of stupidity to think that you know everything. I admire it enormously in him, and wonder why so few people in leading positions reach that stage.
Robert Aitken Roshi: The anxiety to have a ready answer, it seems to me, has two aspects. One is "I want to be equal to this question." Especially for someone in a position of leadership, for someone who's expected to have answers, not having an answer is equated with failure. We want our knowledge, our sense of the world, to form a reasonably complete pattern, one that will hold up under questioning. The second part of the problem is that it's very difficult for most people even to find the quietness that is the mind of "I don't know." Their inner monologues go on and on, constantly, so in response to a question, out comes that inner monologue, just projected into public discourse . . .
Not knowing is most intimate. Intimacy . . . is realization itself. When you are intimate with something, you are one with it. When the Dalai Lama says, "I don't know", he's showing himself and showing the truth.
...it is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.
- Brother David Steindl-Rast in Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer
I hear people everywhere saying that the trouble with our time is that we have no great leaders any more. If we look back we always had them. But to me it seems that there is a very profound reason why there are no great leaders any more. It is because they are no longer needed. The message is clear. You no longer want to be led from the outside. Every man must be his own leader. He now knows enough not to follow other people. He must follow the light that's within himself, and through this light he will create a new community. You see, wherever I go in the world, this to me is a general trend. I am aware of the fact that there are already people in existence today - take us - who really belong to a community which does not exist yet. That is, we are the bridge between the community we've left and the community which doesn't exist yet.
It's like water; water is very powerful, but very humble. The opposite of that is judging and condemning. Any religion that judges and condemns is a spiritually retarded religion. The basic core may be good but back at headquarters they're always trying for superiority. One that brings kindness and redemption - a win-win situation for people and the planet - that's my religion. I shy away from that word because religion to me is right next to politics, which is right next to corruption. My metaphor is the desert - in the desert you need water, not wine or beer, because with those you're gonna die. Religion and politics is like Coca-Cola or something, when what you need is water. There's a big difference betwen the love for power and the power of love.
- Carlos Santana, in Whole Earth, Summer 2000.
One of man's greatest failings is that he looks almost always for an excuse, in the misfortune that befalls him through his own fault, before looking for a remedy - which means he often finds the remedy too late.
- Cardinal de Retz
The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that the warrior takes everything as a challenge while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse. - Don Juan, Tales of Power
is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.
The lesson of being free is so simple that it eludes us. We think of freedom as the unencumbered life, but it is really the unencumbered SELF. To be free is simply to act on one's truth, and to allow no one else to obscure that truth.
God or whatever means the Good
Be praised that time can stop like this,
That what the heart has understood
Can verify in the body's peace
God or whatever means the Good.
Louis MacNeice, stanza from Meeting
It is much harder to learn when your mouth is moving.