Unfinished symphonies

The goal of mindfulness practice is to increase the conditions which lead to our happiness and our freedom. However, the major world wisdom traditions seem to have come to an awareness that  full happiness may not be possible in this world and propose different perspectives based on that. The Buddhist tradition’s fundamental teaching is that life has ultimately an unsatisfactory quality to it and that our suffering comes from not recognizing that. The Old Testament believes that we are on this world with a timeless longing deep inside us, which means that we can never fully find a complete contentment here. As the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes puts it He has also set eternity in their heart. From this perspective therefore, there will always be an restless quality to our life here, because there are (eternal) desires in our hearts which cannot be satisfied by the (finite) experiences which we have. This goes against a lot of what advertising and modern society like to tell us, as they place in front of us a succession of created needs. Although both the Buddhist and the Judeo-Christian traditions differ in the way they resolve the problem, they agree in telling us that no person or no thing can ultimately satisfy our deepest longings and that we will not be fully happy unless we realize that. There is an unfulfilled quality which can manifest itself in our relationships, in disappointments in our families, in a job which does not live up to our dreams, in the place where we live seeming poor in comparison to other places and other lives. To be unfulfilled in this way is to be human. Realizing that it has to be so is the first step to genuine peace.

In the torment of the insufficiency of everything attainable, we finally learn that here in this life all symphonies must remain unfinished.

Karl Rahner

Decluttering our minds

Gaps between activities allow our minds to reopen, expand and have original, often time-and-effort-saving big ideas. So don’t walk with your head down, lost in thought. Don’t just text and call folks when you’re driving or waiting. Don’t read the newspaper when you’re in the bathroom. Allow a little space in your life. Doing nothing is the foundation for doing anything – and it’s one thing we Americans are really, really bad at.

So let go of one or two minutes of entertainment a day – and look out upon this life and world.

Waylon Lewis, Huffington Post

Seeing the bigger picture

The more things go “our way” for a while, the more we can believe that that is the way it is supposed to be.

And when things don’t go “our way,” which sooner or later they will not, we can get angry, disappointed, depressed, devastated……… forgetting that it was never “supposed to be” any one way at all.


Jon Kabat-Zinn, Arriving at your own Door


Heard this song for the first time this evening. Its beautiful haunting melody and sparse words speak to those times in our lives when we struggle and are sad,  or when our heart feels raw.  Often when that happens we contract and turn away, to protect ourselves. It is at times like that that we need  friends who will not hide their face, to ground us and help us feel that we have a place.

The other day I looked
At myself in the mirror
Do not hide your face
Do not hide your face
From me when I feel sad

On the day when I call you
Answer me, please answer me
And turn your shy ear towards me

No cows and no grass to graze on
Makes me feel I’m a nomad
I’m lost and silent in the wilderness
Like an owl among the ruins

My wings lined with ashes
alone on the roof
I feel I’m a nomad

I feel I’m a nomad
I feel I’m a nomad

My days go up in smoke
My bones are aching
My days go up in smoke
My heart is breaking

Geoffrey Oryema Nomad