Seeing the moon

The pandemic has meant that we have lost a lot of what we were accustomed to. Can we still look for beauty or “see the moon” when our modern day structures fall?

The barn’s burnt down,
now I can see the moon.

Mizuta Masahide, 1657–1723,  Japanese Zen poet

Reality is what it is

Every moment gives rise to a new perception, a new action, a new awareness, a new self. For a fraction of a mind-moment nothing is conditioned yet; anything is possible, everything is workableNo matter how much we like or dislike, or are hurt or maimed by a thought, action or event, our attitudes do not colour the event itself, only our relationship to it.

As this is so, no matter how much we stomp or shout or cajole or whine, reality is what it is. In this is sacredness and dignity.

Anzan Hoshin roshi, Cutting the Cat Into One: the Practice of the Bodhisattva Precepts

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The first snowdrops in my garden, a very welcome sign of life in this pandemic winter.

If we were not so single-minded about keeping our lives moving and for once could do nothing perhaps a huge silence might interrupt this sadness of never understanding ourselves and threatening ourselves with death. Perhaps the earth can teach us, as when everything seems dead and later proves to be alive.

Pablo Nerudo, Keeping Quiet

Always uncertain

The future will never provide the reassurance you seek from it. As the ancient Greek and Roman Stoics understood, much of our suffering arises from attempting to control what is not in our control. And the main thing we try but fail to control – the seasoned worriers among us, anyway – is the future. We want to know, from our vantage point in the present, that things will be OK later on. But we never can. (This is why it’s wrong to say we live in especially uncertain times. The future is always uncertain; it’s just that we’re currently very aware of it.)

It’s freeing to grasp that no amount of fretting will ever alter this truth. It’s still useful to make plans. But do that with the awareness that a plan is only ever a present-moment statement of intent, not a lasso thrown around the future to bring it under control. The spiritual teacher Jiddu Krisnamurti said his secret was simple: “I don’t mind what happens.” That needn’t mean not trying to make life better, for yourself or others. It just means not living each day anxiously braced to see if things work out as you hoped.

Oliver Burkeman, The eight secrets to a (fairly) fulfilled life in The Guardian