Consider the “forest pool” metaphor so popular in Buddhism. After inclement weather, the pool is muddy, full of sediment and debris. We cannot clear it by trying to control the contents – that would make the pool worse. We can only wait for all the sediment to settle to the bottom, leaving the pool clear again. So in meditation, by concentrating on the breath or our body or on sounds we can hear in the present moment, we create a space for clarity. We often find that in this spaciousness, an answer to a problem will simply “pop up” to the surface. Sometimes it won’t, but our bodies will thank us for a break from all the worrying.
Sarah Napthali, Stewing
When you are feeling overwhelmed, you’re trying too hard.
That kind of energy does not help the other person and it does not help you. You should not be too eager to help right away. There are two things, to be and to do. Don’t think too much about to do – to be is first. To be peace. To be joy. And then to do joy, to do happiness – on the basis of being. Being fresh. Being peaceful. Being compassionate. This is the basic practice. It’s like a person sitting at the foot of a tree. The tree does not have to do anything, but the tree is fresh and alive. When you are like that tree, sending out waves of freshness, you help to calm down the suffering in the other person.
Thich Nhat Hanh, Be Beautiful, Be yourself
Why cannot we be content with the secret gift of happiness that is offered to us, without consulting the rest of the world?
Why do we insist rather on a happiness that is approved by magazines and TV?
Perhaps because we do not believe in a happiness that is given to us for nothing? We do not think we can be happy with a happiness that has no price tag on it.
To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all our lives—the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections—that requires hard spiritual work.
Still, we are only truly grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment.
A similar thought to yesterdays. A lot of our worries about the coming day or the coming week are just thoughts many of which will never happen. We frequently compare our day to how we think it should be, or our experience to how it was better in the past:
Most of our difficulties, our hopes, and our worries are empty fantasies. Nothing has ever existed except this moment. That’s all there is. That’s all we are. Yet most human beings spend 50 to 90 percent or more of their time in their imagination, living in fantasy. We think about what has happened to us, what might have happened, how we feel about it, how we should be different, how others should be different, how it’s all a shame, and on and on; it’s all fantasy, all imagination. Memory is imagination. Every memory that we stick to devastates our life.
Charlotte Joko Beck
As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.
As time remains free of all that it frames
May your mind stay clear of all it names.
John O’Donohue, For Equilibrium