I don’t mind

peach blossom river
J. Krishnamurti, the great Indian philosopher and spiritual teacher, spoke and travelled almost continually all over the world for more than fifty years attempting to convey through words…that which is beyond words. At one of his talks in the later part of his life, he surprised his audience by asking, “Do you want to know my secret?”

Everyone became very alert. Many people in the audience had been coming to listen to him for twenty or thirty years and still failed to grasp the essence of his teaching. Finally, after all these years, the master would give them the key to understanding.

“This is my secret,” he said.   “I don’t mind what happens.”

Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth – Awakening to your Life’s Purpose’

The secret ingredient of happiness

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The most prophetic thing Thomas Merton ever did was to say to a Louisville shopkeeper who asked him what brand of toothpaste he preferred, “I don’t care”. Merton was intrigued and troubled by the store clerk’s response. “He almost dropped dead” he wrote,  “I was supposed to feel strongly about Colgate or Pepsodent or something with five colours. And they all have a secret ingredient. But I didn’t care about the secret ingredient ….the worst thing you can do now is not care about these things”

This not-caring attitude is important to hold onto these days and still prophetic, because the ultimate goal of the marketer is to have us see consumer products not as mere things, but as keys to our identity.  Brands are marks that owners out on their property, often by painful means, and we are in perilous territory when our self-image, and even our self-worth, is founded on which brands and labels we can afford to purchase and display.

Kathleen Norris, The Secret Ingredient

Feeling trapped, and getting out

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Last evening it snowed here in Ireland. Not a real fall of snow such as you would see in Switzerland but enough to stick on the ground for a while and prompt thoughts of having to travel to work in more difficult circumstances, of getting stuck by bad roads.  It does not take much sometimes for the mind to feel trapped and blocked, not seeing a way out. And frequently thoughts shift to ones of blame  as we feel we should be stronger and able to dig ourselves out of the difficulty we are in, However, strange as it seems, getting out of narrow places sometimes requires that we accept that  we are stuck.  Most blocks come from fear; getting out requires that shift our relationship towards it .

What shuts down the heart more than anything is not letting ourselves have our own experience, but instead judging it, criticizing it, or trying to make it different from what it is. We often imagine there is something wrong with us if we feel angry, needy and dependent, lonely, confused, sad, or scared. We place conditions on ourselves and our experience: “If I feel like this, there must be something wrong with me… I can only accept myself if my experience conforms to my standard of how I should be.”

Meditation cultivates unconditional friendliness through teaching you how to just be—without doing anything, without holding onto anything, and without trying to think good thoughts, get rid of bad thoughts, or achieve a pure state of mind. This is a radical practice. There is nothing else like it. Normally we do everything we can to avoid just being. When left alone with ourselves, without a project to occupy us, we become nervous. We start judging ourselves or thinking about what we should be doing or feeling. We start putting conditions on ourselves, trying to arrange our experience so that it measures up to our inner standards. Since this inner struggle is so painful, we are always looking for something to distract us from being with ourselves.

In meditation practice, you work directly with your confused mind-states, without waging crusades against any aspect of your experience. You let all your tendencies arise, without trying to screen anything out, manipulate experience in any way, or measure up to any ideal standard. Allowing yourself the space to be as you are—letting whatever arises arise, without fixation on it, and coming back to simple presence—this is perhaps the most loving and compassionate way you can treat yourself. It helps you make friends with the whole range of your experience.

John Welwood

photo kenneth allen

Looking forward, moving on

dawn 2013 solstice

The days have been especially short this week in Ireland, with dark mornings and darkness closing in early in the afternoon, and the wind and the rain making things seem even gloomier. However, this morning, after a very stormy start, the dawn shone bright and clear. For the ancients, this midwinter solstice sun gave some relief and hope, as it marked the rebirth of light after the shortest days of the year. It marked a turning point, a reversal of the lengthening of night and shortening of days. For us too, these weeks allow a period of reflection and can be a time of turning, as we reflect on what is stagnant in out lives and let go of those things. We all take wrong turnings from time to time, or need a period to start afresh. We move on, and look to the future, even in f we do not know what shape it will take

No seed ever sees the flower

Zen Saying

Space

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When we start to develop mindfulness, we are able to extend the sense of our domain beyond the seeming limitations of our body, of our immediate space. Try to understand that for most of human history, we have lived in larger spaces, like the  wide valleys that occupy great physical space. We have the capacity to hear, see, smell, and taste and to know intuitively. We lived as communities. And it has been only a very short time that we have cut ourselves off from that, that we have lived in little separate boxes and have a very narrow sense of our mission and ourselves. We all still long for that connection. We all still yearn to have that more expansive sense of belonging and anchoring, spaciousness and connectedness. It is not that difficult to create. In meditation  we create a sacred space, and the longer we abide in it, the more those old powerful urges and natural states of being emerge in us. And we begin to understand the nature of things and of change on a refined and profound level.

Steven Smith, Wise Navigating Through Change