We can live any way we want. People take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience – even of silence – by choice. The thing is to stalk your calling in a certain skilled and supple way, to locate the most tender and live spot and plug into that pulse. This is yielding, not fighting.
~ Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk
Most of the time the universe speaks to us very quietly
in pockets of silence
in the shape of clouds
in forgotten memories
in moments of solitude
in small tugs at our hearts.
~ Yumi Sakugawa, Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One With the Universe
It annoys me when people say, ‘Even if you’re old, you can be young at heart!’ Hiding inside this well-meaning phrase is a deep cultural assumption that old is bad and young is good. What’s wrong with being old at heart, I’d like to know? Wouldn’t you like to be loved by people whose hearts have practiced loving for a long time?”
He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.
First of all, although men have a common destiny, each individual also has to work out his own personal salvation for himself in fear and trembling. We can help one another to find the meaning of life no doubt. But in the last analysis, the individual person is responsible for living his own life and for “finding himself.” If he persists in shifting his responsibility to somebody else, he fails to find out the meaning of his own existence. You cannot tell me who I am and I cannot tell you who you are. If you do not know your own identity, who is going to identify you?
~ Thomas Merton
When we pause, allow a gap, and breath deeply, we can experience instant refreshment. Suddenly we slow down, look out, and there’s the world. It can feel like briefly standing in the eye of the tornado or the still point of a turning wheel. Our mood may be agitated or cheerful. What we see and hear may be chaos or it may be the ocean, the mountains, or birds flying across a clear blue sky. Either way, momentarily our mind is still and we are not pulled in or pushed away by what we are experiencing.
~ Pema Chodron
Listen with Ease
Have you ever sat very silently, not with your attention fixed on anything, not making an effort to concentrate, but with the mind very quiet, really still? Then you hear everything, don’t you? You hear the far off noises as well as those that are nearer and those that are very close by, the immediate sounds — which means really that you are listening to everything. Your mind is not confined to one narrow little channel. If you can listen in this way, listen with ease, without strain, you will find an extraordinary change taking place within you, a change that comes without your volition, without your asking, and in that change there is great beauty and depth of insight.
~ J. Krishnamurti, The Book of Life
Tides and storms, the patterns of seasons and migrations, the quality of the soil and the air – all of these continue to influence and are influenced by us; they remind us of the intricate web from which we cannot disentangle ourselves, try as we might. Also, some of us are still lucky enough to live in places where we are awakened by birdsong in the morning, where at night we can see the Milky Way spilled across the sky. These things are part of our daily human experiences. As such, these phenomena – like anything else – can take on particular meaning, both original and universal.
Such meaning depends on authenticity, which often depends on engagement. This is the case whether we are talking about authenticity between people and people or between people and nature. We must be attentive; we must give our senses over to the other.
~ Hannah Fries, In Defense of Wonder