A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
Peace is the number one beautiful ornament you can wear, I really believe that. They say you should always wear a smile, but I don’t believe that you should “always” wear a smile, seriously, you’re going to look stupid! But peace, you should always carry peace within you, its the most beautifying thing you could ever have or do. Peace makes your heart beautiful and it makes you look beautiful, too. You want to have perfect physical posture when you stand, sit, and walk, and peace is the perfect posture of the soul, really. Try perfect posture outside as well as inside. Peace creates grace and grace gives peace.
~C. JoyBell C.
Kindness itself is a way of life. There will always be those who wait for others to lift the heavy load, those who count on you or me to make the extra effort. Do not begrudge them. For though they suffer, they have not suffered enough. They cause themselves more harm than they know. When you lend a hand, you open a way for your heart to touch the heart of everything. This is a wealth that only grows. While those we help may leave or die or simply grow into their own beauty and be loved by others, the closeness uncovered by kindness turns to light in the body, until the closeness generated by kindness makes a lamp of the heart.
~Mark Nepo, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: Staying Close to What is Sacred
pathwriter’s note: I highly recommend this (or any other) book by Mark Nepo. He has been a constant spiritual companion/teacher for me for the past four or five years.
There is a way of seeing without projection, and it’s beautiful.
I can’t remember exactly when I first bought and hung a crystal prism in a sunny window, but I know the first time I walked in and saw rainbows dancing across the walls, I fell in love. Such a little thing, and yet such joy! All from a tiny ball of glass.
The kitchen of my house faces east and receives wonderful morning sun through its two small windows. I’ve hung a crystal in each one, and on sunny mornings, I’m greeted with magical dabs of color on the walls and ceiling and cabinet doors. The sight never fails to make me smile, even in difficult times.
On the surface, these dancing rainbows are a small, perhaps (to some minds) a frivolous thing. On a deeper level, however, they’re a link, a tether, to all that’s good and right about the world. They’re a momentary respite—or even a way out of—whatever darkness or heaviness I might be caught up in. I can look at them and think, Even in the midst of (fill in the blank with my current “problem”), there is this—these fairy-like splashes of color and light. Even in the midst of strain and stress, beauty goes on, the light still shines.
For you, it might be something else. It might be the birds that visit your feeder every morning, or the dog that wakes you with a lick or a paw on the side of the bed. Whatever it is, take a moment to see it, to receive it. Carry it with you through your day. It’s the small joys—digging in the dirt, sliding between freshly laundered sheets, watching my cat sleep in a sunny shaft of light—that have gotten me through the tough times, and luckily, the small joys are always there to be had. I just have to take the time to notice.
…and when all the wars are over, a butterfly will still be beautiful.
~Ruskin Bond, Scenes from a Writer’s Life
We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.
Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.
Suffering makes an instrument of each of us,
so that standing naked, holes and all,
the unseen vitalities can be heard
through our simplified lives.
Sometimes we can’t get what we want. While this can be disappointing and painful, it is only devastating if we stop there. The world thrives on endless possibilities. It is what makes nature a reservoir of health. Yet if the heart is cramped or the mind locks on to its pain, we can narrow wonder to a thread. In contradiction to the endless number of eggs that spawn a fish and the endless number of cells that blossom to heal a wound, we can hold out the one thing we want as the only food. From here, crisis and desperation are a short step.
It becomes a sorry occupation, beating oneself up for the one seed that didn’t take. It is an insidious way: the more we refuse mystery, the more we feel responsible for all that befalls us. Indeed, the more we distract ourselves with analyzing strategies that failed, the more we avoid the true feelings of loss that no one can escape en route to a full and vital life.
Even if we can accept this, none of us is exempt from the turmoil and pain that arises when what we want is love. Continue reading
Ah, not to be cut off
not through the slightest partition
shut out from the law of the stars
The inner—what is it?
if not intensified sky
hurled through with birds and deep
with the winds of homecoming.
~Rainer Maria Rilke
We have no reason to harbor any mistrust against our world, for it is not against us. If it has terrors, they are our terrors; if it has abysses, these abysses belong to us; if there are dangers, we must try to love them. And if only we arrange our life in accordance with the principle which tells us that we must always trust in the difficult, then what now appears to us as the most alien will become our most intimate and trusted experience. How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.
~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
North Carolina Museum of Art park trail, Raleigh, NC – Photo by Viki Atkinson