Fail better

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One of the biggest challenges in life is how we deal with disappointment:

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.

Samuel Beckett, Worstword Ho, 1983

So what I’m saying is: fail. Then fail again, and then maybe you start to work with some of the things I’m saying. And when it happens again, when things don’t work out, you fail better. In other words, you are able to work with the feeling of failure instead of shoving it under the rug, blaming it on somebody else, coming up with a negative self-image — all of those futile strategies.

“Fail better” means you begin to have the ability to hold what I call “the rawness of vulnerability” in your heart, and see it as your connection with other human beings and as a part of your humanness. Failing better means when these things happen in your life, they become a source of growth, a source of forward, a source of, “out of that place of rawness you can really communicate genuinely with other people.” Your best qualities come out of that place because it’s unguarded and you’re not shielding yourself. 

Pema Chodron

photo jorg hempel

Inner confidence

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Suffering sometimes arises when we seek outside ourselves – in others or in achievements – what has to be found within:

I have nothing to defend,  for all is of equal value to me.

I cannot lose anything in this
place of abundance
I have found.

Catherine of Siena,  Catholic Saint and mystic, 1347 – 1380

Just reflections in the moon

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There was a very clear super moon last night.

In Chinese philosophy, the “10, 000 things” is a shorthand way of talking about all the experiences –  good and bad – which arise and pass away in our day.

This poem reminds us not to give too much substance to all the things which arise today:

Sitting alone in peace before these cliffs
the full moon is heaven’s beacon
the ten thousand things are all reflections
the moon originally has no light

Han-shan, 9th Century legendary Chinese figure.

Let them pass through

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Spaciousness does not come by arriving at a state of mind where thoughts and emotions simply do not arise and disturb us. On the contrary, difficulties are part of life, and emotions connected to them will always arise. Rather it comes when we can hold such mental events in awareness in such a way that we do not give them, or the stories and dramas that make up our personality, the importance that they clamour for:

Yes, there is the purity of these autumn waters extending out to the horizon

But how does that compare with the haziness of the moon on a Spring night?

Most people want to have pure clarity

But sweep as you will, you cannot empty the mind

Keizan Jokin, the “Great Patriarch” 1268 – 1325, second founder of the Soto Zen School

Sunday Quote: Spacious

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The world is vast

and the body and breath are spacious

when we are at ease with ourselves and others

Michael Stone, from his lovely book, Awake in the World

photo of early morning sun in Glendalough, on a beautiful Saturday in October which reminded me of Rilke :

I would like to step out of my heart

and go walking beneath the enormous sky.