All we get are glimpses

Saints and bodhisattvas may achieve what Christians call mystical union or Buddhists call satori — a perpetual awareness of the force at the heart of things. For these enlightened few, the world is always lit. For the rest of us, such clarity comes only fitfully, in sudden glimpses or slow revelations. Quakers refer to these insights as ‘openings.’ When I first heard the term … I thought of how, on an overcast day, sunlight pours through a break in the clouds. After the clouds drift on, eclipsing the sun, the sun keeps shining behind the veil, the memory of its light shines on in the mind.

Scott Russell Sanders, A Private History of Awe

What to remember in a time of change

A similar theme, this time from the Christian tradition:

Nothing lasts. No single thing can consume our entire life’s meaning. No single thing can give us total satisfaction. Nothing is worth everything: neither past, nor present nor future. It isn’t true that the loss of any single thing will destroy us. Everything in life has some value and life is full of valuable things, things worth living for, things worth doing, things worth becoming, things worth loving again. It is only a matter of being detached enough from one thing to be open to everything else.

The essence of life is not to find the one thing that satisfies us  but to realize that nothing can ever completely satisfy us.

Joan Chittister, After Great Pain: Finding a Way Out

This is how it is 2: Whatever arises must pass away

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Sometimes I’d go to see old religious sites with ancient temple buildings, designed by architects, beautifully built by skilled craftsmen. In some places they would be cracked. Maybe one of my friends would remark, “Such a shame, isn’t it? It’s cracked. ” I’d say: “If that weren’t the case then there’d be no such thing as the Buddha, there’d be no Dharma. It’s cracked like this because it’s perfectly in line with the Buddha’s teaching.

Ajahn Chah

photo sookie

This is how it is 1: No here, no there, no liking and disliking

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The 9th Century Zen Master Siubi was asked “What is the secret of Zen”

“Come back when there is no-one around and I shall tell you”

The inquirer returned and Siubi took him to a bamboo-grove, pointed to the bamboos and said 

“See how long these are. See how short these are”

Suddenly the questioner had a flash of awakening. What did he see? He had a revelation of sheer existence. Where there is revelation, explanation becomes superfluous. Curiosity is dissolved in wonder.

John Welwood: Ordinary magic: Everyday life as Spiritual Path


The beauty of the new

How frightened we are of the new, of the unknown! We like to remain enclosed in our daily habits, routines, quarrels and anxieties. We like to think in the same old way, take the same road, see the same faces and have the same worries. We dislike to meet strangers, and when we do we are aloof and distraught.  We move within the walls of our own thought; and when we do venture out, it is still within the extension of those walls. We have never an ending, but always nourish the continuous. We carry from day to day the burden of yesterday;

Can the joy of yesterday ever be repeated today? The desire for repetition arises only when there is no joy today; when today is empty, we look to the past or to the future. The desire for repetition is desire for continuity, and in continuity there is never the new. There is happiness, not in the past or in the future, but only in the movement of the present.

Krisnamurti, Commentaries on Living Series 1