Not getting burnt

A fire reflected in a lake cannot burn the water. Neither can emotions disturb the mind when you don’t get involved in them. Don’t identify an emotion as your self. The fear or anger is not you, only an impersonal phenomenon.

Mentally pull back from the emotion and turn your awareness around to observe it. When in the grip of negative emotion we tend to believe it will never end. But emotions are no more permanent than thoughts.

Cynthia Thatcher, Just Seeing: Insight Mediation and Sense-Perception

The windblown clouds

No matter how long you live,
the result is not altered.
Who will not end up as a skeleton?
Cast off the notion that “I exist.”

Entrust yourself to the windblown clouds,
and do not wish to live forever.

Ikkyu, Japanese Zen Buddhist monk and poet.1394 – 1481

The paths we choose

As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.


Our astonished emotions

It seems to me that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension, which we feel as paralysis because we no longer hear our astonished emotions living.

Because we are alone with the unfamiliar presence that has entered us; because everything we trust and are used to is for a moment taken away from us; because we stand in the midst of a transition where we cannot remain standing.

That is why the sadness passes: the new presence inside us, the presence that has been added, has entered our heart, has gone into its inner most chamber and is no longer even there, is already in our bloodstream.

Rilke, Letters to a Yong Poet


Many of the great Zen and Taoist teachers emphasized the ordinary and the dangers of spiritual importance:

Emperor Wu: ‘I have built many temples, copied innumerable Sutras and ordained many monks since becoming Emperor. Therefore, I ask you, what is my merit?’

Bodhidharma: ‘None whatsoever!’

Emperor Wu: ‘Why no merit?’

Bodhidharma: ‘Doing things for merit has an impure motive and will only bear the puny fruit of rebirth.’

Emperor Wu, a little put out: ‘Well, what then is the most important principle of Buddhism?’

Bodhidharma: ‘Vast emptiness. Nothing sacred.’

Emperor Wu, by now bewildered, and not a little indignant: ‘Who is this that stands before me?’

Bodhidharma: ‘I do not know.’

If we can allow ourselves to live an ordinary life while also staying awake to the great void at the center of all that is, then we can be this intermediary place between that intoxicating, mystical bliss of oblivion and the wonder of how the Divine creates and reveals Itself in all the forms of life. Our lives are the expression of this bridge – ordinary and extraordinary, all things in their place, everything free to be as it is, and our consciousness, our heart, free to be used as needed.

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, The Extraordinary in the Ordinary