The attempt to look at your attitude — what you are feeling and thinking and the frame that holds it –
and then your attitude to your attitude,
is one of the routes to freedom
John Tarrant, In the Wild Places
Those who love their own noise are impatient of everything else. They constantly defile the silence of the forests and the mountains and the sea. They bore through silent nature in every direction with their machines, for fear that the calm world might accuse them of their own emptiness. The urgency of their swift movement seems to ignore the tranquility of nature by pretending to have a purpose. The loud plane seems for a moment to deny the reality of the clouds and of the sky, by its direction, its noise, and its pretended strength. The silence of the sky remains when the plane has gone. The tranquility of the clouds will remain when the plane has fallen apart. It is the silence of the world that is real.
What is balance in a society whose skewing of time has it totally off-balance? What is balance in a culture that has destroyed the night with perpetual light and keeps equipment going twenty-four hours a day because it is more costly to turn machines on and of than it is to pay people to run them at strange and difficult hours? In the first place balance for us is obviously not a mathematical division of the day. For most of us our days simply do not divide that easily. In the second place, balance for us is clearly not equivalence. Because I have done forty hours of work this week doesn’t mean that I will have forty hours of prayer and leisure. What it does mean, however, is that somehow I must make time for both. I must make time or die inside.
Joan Chittister, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily
…You come, dreaming of ferns and flowers
and new leaves unfolding
upon the brash turnip-hearted skunk cabbage…
…Your kneel beside it. The smell
is lurid and flows in the most
…but these are the woods you love,
where the secret name
of every death is life again – a miracle…
…What blazes the trail is not necessarily pretty.
Mary Oliver, Skunk Cabbage
Every step we take, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.
Thich Nhat Hahn
In this part of the world there are not so many English Speaking Retreats available, besides the excellent ones offered all year round at Gaia House in the UK. Therefore, deepening practice through an extended period of silence can be difficult to organize without the extra expense of long travel. For this reason I am delighted to be able to post that James Baraz, the author of the well-known book and programme Awakening Joy, will be leading a Mindfulness Retreat, from June 27 – July 5, in the lovely retreat center at Götzis, Austria, just across the border from Switzerland. The title of the retreat is Being Present for Your Life and the emphasis is on quieting the mind, opening the heart, and developing loving-kindness, clarity and depth of practice. Because the format includes periods of silent sitting and walking meditation along with discussion and mindful movement, this is a great place to start one’s retreat experience, with an excellent teacher. It would be very suitable for all who have completed the MBSR programme and who wish to deepen their practice. More details can be found by clicking on the link : http://www.arbor-seminare.de/being-present-your-life
Here in France, the 4th International Forum on Buddhism and Medicine will be held at the end of May in Lerab Linn near Montpellier, with a range of international speakers coming. Again, details can be found by clicking the link http://2013.buddhismandmedicine.org/en/
Finally, since this is a practical post, the blog had its 200,000 visitor last week, one year after we reached our first 100,000, which took over two and a half years. I want to thank everyone of you who stops by for your readership and comments, and all who follow the Blog for your support, practice and presence on this journey.
Music is pleasing not only because of the sound but because of the silence that is in it: without the alternation of sound and silence, there would be no rhythm. If we strive to be happy by filling in the silences of life with sound, productive by turning all life’s leisure into work, and real by turning all our being into doing, we will only succeed in producing a hell on earth. If we have not silence, God is not heard in our music. If we have not rest, God does not bless our work. If we twist our lives out of shape in order to fill every corner of them with action and experience, God will seem silently to withdraw from our hearts and leave us empty.
Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island
photo : jon rawlinson