The secret signature

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If you live the life you love, you will receive shelter and blessings.  Sometimes the great famine of blessings in and around us derives from the fact that we are not living the life we love; rather, we are living the life that is expected of us.  We have fallen out of rhythm with the secret signature and light of our own nature.

John O’Donohue

Making space for rest today

All of life requires a rhythm of rest… but we have lost this essential rhythm. Our culture invariably supposes that action and accomplishment are better than rest, that doing something — anything — is better than doing nothing. Because of our desire to succeed, to meet these ever growing expectations, we do not rest. Because we do not rest, we lose our way. … We miss the compass points that would show us where to go; we bypass the nourishment that would give us succor. We miss the quiet that would give us wisdom. We miss the joy and love born of effortless delight. Poisoned by this hypnotic belief that good things come only through unceasing determination and tireless effort, we can never truly rest.

Wayne Muller, Sabbath

A space for beauty

Here one of the greatest theologians of the last Century reminds us to create some space for leisure and a beauty that is greater than us. If we get caught up in the drive for achievement and efficiency, we risk building a life that alienates us from our deepest selves by a focus on utility and speed for its own sake.

Beauty is the disinterested one, without which the ancient world refused to understand itself,  a word which both imperceptibly and yet unmistakably has bid farewell to our new world, a world of interests, leaving it to its own avarice and sadness.  We no longer dare to believe in beauty and we make of it a mere appearance in order the more easily to dispose of it. Our situation today shows that beauty demands for itself at least as much courage and decision as do truth and goodness, and she will not allow herself to be separated and banned from her two sisters without taking them along with herself in an act of mysterious vengeance. We can be sure that whoever sneers at her name as if she were the ornament of a bourgeois past – whether he or she admits it or not –  can no longer pray and soon will no longer be able to love.

Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Glory of the Lord: A thrological Aesthetics

…and expanding our range

The crucial factor influencing how we can respond in a given situation seems to be the level of mindfulness we can bring to bear upon the moment. If we don’t care to be present, unconscious decision-making systems will function by default to get us through to the next moment, albeit in the grip of (often flawed and suffering causing) learned behaviors and conditioned responses. If, on the other hand, we can increase the amount of conscious awareness present by manifesting mindfulness, we expand the range of our possible responses. Even if disposed to anger, we can choose to act with kindness. This is the essence of our freedom in an otherwise heavily conditioned system.

Andrew Olendzki, Unlimiting Mind

Out from behind our curtain…

When we examine this experience of opening, we find that we are expressing a part of ourselves that we may tend to overlook: we are expressing our ability to trust ourselves completely. In order to open — in meditation and in life in general — we must let go of our familiar thoughts and emotions, we must step out from behind the safe curtain of our inner rehearsals and onto the stage of reality, even if it’s for just a brief moment. When we open on the cushion, we renounce our attachment to our emotional security blanket, over and over again. We drop our pretense and our story lines and stand naked in the midst of uncertainty — the very essence of confidence itself.

Michael Carroll