I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.
Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.
photo chris reynolds
Even though the hawthorn trees are in full bloom here and the old proverb, – “ne’r cast a clout til May be out” – tells us that it is time to switch to summer clothing, one cannot do so yet. Frequent heavy showers are followed by calm and sunshine, which is good for growth in the fields and the garden, but not so good for being able to get out for a walk in them. A lot of mental energy is wasted in wishing that external circumstances were different and “suited” us better.
A monk said to Master Tozan, ” Cold and heat descend upon us. how can we avoid them?” Tozan said, “Why don’t you go where there is no cold or heat” The monk said, ” Where is the place where there is no cold or heat?” Tozan said, “When cold, let it be so cold that it kills you; when hot, let it be so hot that it kills you.”
In this teaching “kill you” means kill your ideas about how things have to be for you to be happy. It may sound odd but you can be practicing mindfulness with discomfort and pain and be quite happy. The happiness comes from the pleasure of just being present, and also from the confidence that you are gaining – a confidence that, with ongoing practice, you will be able to face whatever life brings you, even pain, aided by tools such as mindfulness.
Jan Chozen Bays, How to Train a Wild Elelhant.
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.
Wu Men, 1183 – 1260
Perhaps the biggest tragedy of our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns…We may want to love other people without holding back, to feel authentic, to breathe in the beauty around us, to dance and sing. Yet each day we listen to inner voices that keep our life small.
Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance.
photo andre engles
We tend to be particularly unaware that we are thinking virtually all the time. The incessant stream of thoughts flowing through our minds leaves us very little respite for inner quiet. And we leave precious little room for ourselves anyway just to be, without having to run around doing things all the time. Our actions are all too frequently driven rather than undertaken in awareness, driven by those perfectly ordinary thoughts and impulses that run through the mind like a coursing river, if not a waterfall. We get caught up in the torrent and it winds up submerging our lives as it carries us to places we may not wish to go and may not even realize we are headed for. Meditation means learning how to get out of this current, sit by its bank and listen to it, learn from it, and then use its energies to guide us rather than to tyrannize us.
Jon Kabat Zinn, Wherever you go, there you are
photo of Old man, Ballyknow Quay, River Corrib, Galway, Ireland by greg o’beirne
The good news they do not print.
The good news we do print.
We have a special edition every moment,
and we need you to read it.
The good news is that you are alive,
that the linden tree is still there,
standing firm in the harsh winter.
The good news is that you have wonderful eyes
to touch the blue sky.
The good news is that your child is there before you,
and your arms are available: hugging is possible.
They only print what is wrong.
Look at each of our special editions.
We always offer the things that are not wrong.
We want you to benefit from them
and help protect them.
The dandelion is there by the sidewalk,
smiling its wondrous smile, singing the song of eternity.
Listen! You have ears that can hear it.
Bow your head. Listen to it.
Leave behind the world of sorrow, of preoccupation,
and get free.
The latest good news
is that you can do it
Thich Nhat Hanh
photo Paul Davidson