• 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

That place within


Meister Eckhart said, “There is a place in the soul — there is a place in the soul that neither time, nor space, nor no created thing can touch.” And I really thought that was amazing, and what it means is that your identity is not equivalent to your biography. And that there is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there’s still a sureness in you, where there’s a seamlessness in you, and where there is a confidence and tranquility in you. And I think the intention of prayer and spirituality and love is now and again to visit that inner kind of sanctuary.

John O’Donoghue, Interview with Krista Tippett, On Being



The only true antidote to always wanting more, as this 8th Century  reminds us, is to be aware of, and rooted in,  our inherent completeness, an awareness which will contradict the arising feeling of never being satisfied.

There is a solitary brightness without fixed shape or form.
It knows how to listen to the teachings,
it knows how to understand the teachings,
it knows how to teach.
That solitary brightness is you.

Linji Yìxuán, Chinese Zen Buddhist monk, died 866

True self, false self


We spend a lot of time creating suffering through imagining scenarios that never actually come to pass. These can be with us even as we get up in the morning. One way the different traditions try to help with this is by encouraging us to drop into the natural calm that lies beneath the restless thoughts – our natural wakefulness, our “true face”. Being mindful is something intrinsic to the mind, not something foreign we are trying to bring in. It is like sinking below the ripples on the surface of the lake and finding calm depths beneath.

In this high place, it is as simple as this,
leave everything you know behind.

Step toward the cold surface, say the old prayer of rough love
and open both arms.

Those who come with empty hands
will stare into the lake astonished
there in the cold light, reflecting cold snow

the true shape of your own face

David Whyte, Tilokal Lake

Inner voyages


The human heart is never still. … There are always new thoughts and experiences emerging in your life; some moments delight and surprise you, others bring you onto shaky ground. …The mind and heart are wanderers who are always tempted by new horizons. … Your longing frequently takes you on inner voyages that no one would ever guess. …longing keeps the door open and calls towards us the gifts and blessings which our lives dream.

John O’Donohue,