Right now

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We can spend our whole lives waiting to start living, instead of loving fully, even though we are flawed.  As Emerson reminds us: “Give all for love. Obey thy heart…when half-gods go, the gods appear”

Sit down wherever you are
And listen to the wind singing in your veins.
Feel the love, the longing, the fear in your bones.
Open your heart to who you are, right now,
Not who you would like to be,
Not the saint you are striving to become,
But the being right here before you, inside you, around you.
All of you is holy.
You are already more and less
Than whatever you can know.
Breathe out, Touch in,
Let go.

John Welwood

photo rosino

Not rushing to fix ambiguities


The period between Christmas and New Year has a distinct tone and  a change of rhythm. There is an intensity about the Christmas period which can stir us up; to add to this we will soon be bombarded by the messages of New Year resolutions and dramatically  fixing our lives. So one or two posts about how to deal with this time, when the temptation is often to make abrupt changes in the face of the different parts of our lives.

There is a certain type of uncertainty which is just part of being human, and which we cannot control, such as that which comes from illness. This fundamental ambiguity – the unsatisfactory nature of life and of circumstances  – is always there in the background. It can be accentuated at periods like Christmas, and we intensify our efforts to get solid ground. So the dilemma is how to live wholeheartedly as adults in the realization that some elements will always be displeasing and we are never fully going to get it all together. How can we hold different parts together  – “manage the grey” – when we prefer things to be simply black or white: 

Most of us are uncomfortable when things are undefined, when things are not clearly to or for, up or down, left or right, or right or wrong. But the deeper truths always take time to reach us, and it is our job to enter a practice of waiting openly – which involves enduring the tensions of not-knowing. The truths that matter require us not to form opinions or beliefs hastily. On the contrary, we are asked to allow time to surround us with the Wholeness of life, to take the time required for the paradox of truth to show itself. It seems that the practice of not-knowing begins with a trust in the unnameable space that holds us, in the mysterious atmosphere in which we all live. That seems to be the true space of listening and learning, where our brief experiences of life in its totality, whether harsh or calm, will not fit into our tidy little maps of perception.

Mark Nepo


  • File:Underaged refugees in a camp located at the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, 30 January 2016.jpg

The Christian calendar is quite wise in placing the feast-day of the Slaughter of the Innocents today,  just immediately after the Christmas celebrations. It faces into the reality of this world, with the sad turns which we cannot understand, and the fact that we can lose that which is most important to us, due to factors which are unexpected or outside of our control.  It is the opposite to the distracting tactics which we see scattered all through the modern understanding of this holiday.

One cannot be deeply responsive to the world

without being saddened very often.

Erich Fromm

photo Mstyslav Chernov

Like holding a baby

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Thich Nhat Hahn from the Zen Tradition using the Christmas story as a way of teaching how to meditate:

I am going to remind you of the way to practice. First, “in” and “out.” It means that when I breathe in, I know I am breathing in. It’s easy. And when I breathe out, I know I am breathing out. I don’t mix the two things up. Breathing in, I know it is my in-breath. Breathing out, I know this is my out-breath. By that time, you stop all the thinking, you just pay attention to your in-breath and your out-breath. You are 100 percent with your in-breath and your out-breath.

It is like holding a baby in such a way that you hold it with 100 percent of yourself. Suppose this is a baby and I hold the baby like this. I hold the baby with 100 percent of myself. Remember, there are times when your mother holds you like this. Have you seen the image of the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus? She holds him like that: 100 percent. So here, our in-breath is our baby, and we hold our in-breath 100 percent. “Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in.” You just embrace your in-breath, nothing else. Don’t think of anything else. That is the secret of success.

Thich Nhat Hahn