In the psychological climate of our own times, our emotions are almost always considered to be virtually identical with our personal authenticity, and the more freely they flow, the more we are seen to be honest and “in touch.” A person who gravitates to a mental mode of operation is criticized for being “in his head”; when feeling dominates, we proclaim with approval that such a person is “in his heart.”
In the Wisdom tradition, this would be a serious misuse of the term heart. Far from revealing the heart, Wisdom teaches that the emotions are in fact the primary culprits that obscure and confuse it. The real mark of personal authenticity is not how intensely we can express our feelings but how honestly we can look at where they’re coming from and spot the elements of clinging, manipulation, and personal agendas that make up so much of what we experience as our emotional life today. . . .
~ Cynthia Bourgeault, from Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations
We are continually aligning or relating ourselves to those energies or actions which we perceive as being favourable or desirable. Our bodies take us to food, sex, rest, recreation. Our minds take us towards knowledge of all kinds. Our feelings attract us to the arts, to nature, even to spiritual pursuits. This is all natural and desirable….But is it not strange that we do not, at the same time, turn more frequently to the supreme energy, to the Self veiled within each of us, for the profundity of which we only have human words?
~ William Segal, Openings
No man knows how much he is an optimist, even when he calls himself a pessimist, because he has not really measured the depths of his debt to whatever created him and enabled him to call himself anything. At the back of our brains… [there is] a forgotten blaze or burst of astonishment at our own existence. The object of the artistic and spiritual life [is] to dig for this submerged sunrise of wonder; so that a man sitting in a chair might suddenly understand that he [is] actually alive, and be happy.
~ G. K. Chesterton
Healing does not require that you master the unreasonable side of your reason. Nor does healing require inner perfection of any order. A common trait shared by people who have healed is that they cease being unreasonable in ways that no longer matter in the greater scheme of life. Against the scale of life or death, how important is winning an argument? How important is holding a grudge? How important is anything other than how well we love others, how deeply we regard the value of the gift of life, and what we do with our life that makes this world a better place?
~ Caroline Myss
I believe our survival demands revolution, both cultural and political. If we are to survive the disasters that threaten, and survive our own struggle to make it new – a struggle I believe we have no choice but to commit ourselves to – we need tremendous transfusions of imaginative energy. If it is indeed revolution we are moving toward, we need life, and abundantly – we need poems of the spirit, to inform us of the essential, to help us live the revolution. And if instead it be the Last Days – then we need to taste the dearest, freshest drops before we die – why bother with anything less than that, the essential?
~ Denise Levertov, The Poet in the World
The ancient words of the Orthodox liturgy, or the Om mani padme hum, or the Upanishads, have an incantatory power — a power of invoking that which they seek to invoke — because they have been repeatedly uttered. But they have been repeatedly uttered because millions have trusted them. To take etymology really seriously is to trust words.
And perhaps that’s what it’s all about. In my less depressive moments, I think that there’s a deep and universal principle at work — which is that if you really, really trust the world (a world that includes words) and make yourself wholly vulnerable in the event of your trust being misplaced, the world always honors and rewards the trust and vulnerability. You can call it faith or grace if you want.
~ Charles Foster, Emergence Magazine
For me, language is a freedom. As soon as you have found the words with which to express something, you are no longer incoherent, you are no longer trapped by your own emotions, by your own experiences; you can describe them, you can tell them, you can bring them out of yourself and give them to somebody else. That is an enormously liberating experience, and it worries me that more and more people are learning not to use language; they’re giving in to the banalities of the television media and shrinking their vocabulary, shrinking their own way of using this fabulous tool that human beings have refined over so many centuries into this extremely sensitive instrument. I don’t want to make it crude, I don’t want to make it into shopping-list language, I don’t want to make it into simply an exchange of information: I want to make it into the subtle, emotional, intellectual, freeing thing that it is and that it can be.
~ Jeanette Winterson
The morning sings.
The egg-shaped moon
is exhaling clouds.
I breathe in and
exhale a song of my own.
as the symphony of birds
respond with hymns
And our conservationist-environmentalist-moral outrage is often (in its frustration) aimed at the logger or the rancher, when the real power is in the hands of people who make unimaginably larger sums of money, people impeccably groomed, excellently educated at the best universities – male and female alike – eating fine foods and reading classy literature, while orchestrating the investment and legislation that ruin the world.
~ Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild
To argue that the current extinction event could be averted if people just cared more and were willing to make more sacrifices is not wrong, exactly; still, it misses the point. It doesn’t much matter whether people care or don’t care. What matters is that people change the world. This capacity predates modernity.
~ Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
Caretaking is the utmost spiritual and physical responsibility of our time, and perhaps that stewardship is finally our place in the web of life, our work, the solution to the mystery that we are. There are already so many holes in the universe that will never again be filled, and each of them forces us to question why we permitted such loss, such tearing away at the fabric of life, and how we will live with our planet in the future.
~ Linda Hogan, Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World