Demented gardeners

[Even some] lovely people feel that their real identity is working on themselves, and some work on themselves with such harshness. Like a demented gardener who won’t let the soil settle for anything to grow, they keep raking, tearing away the nurturing clay from their own heart, then they’re surprised that they feel so empty and vacant. Self-compassion is paramount. When you are compassionate with yourself, you trust in your soul, which you let guide your life. Your soul knows the geography of your destiny better than you do.

John O’Donoghue, Anam Chara

Three greatest treasures

I have just three things to teach:

simplicity, patience, compassion.

These three are your greatest treasures: 

Simple in actions and in thoughts,

you return to the source of being.

Patient with both friends and enemies,

you accord with the way things are.

Compassionate toward yourself,

you reconcile all beings in the world.

Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, 67, Stephen Mitchell trans,


As is

My daughterGina, and I like to shop in consignment stores for vintage clothing. There are great finds in such shops, a silk paisley scarf, a retro leather jacket, sequined heels. Many of the clothes have a small stain, a missing button or a slight tear in the fabric. I noticed in one store, all the clothes carried a cardboard tag with the price and the disclaimer “As Is” 

I like these tags. I think we should hang them on ourselves and each other like Christmas tree ornaments. What a beautiful gift to accept ourselves, others and our circumstances “As Is”, with all the beauty, imperfections and challenges that make up this very human life of ours.

Frank Ostaseski, The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully

Using difficulties

Hard times are not a mistake. You haven’t done something wrong to have hard times….. life is woven with praise and blame and gain, and loss and pleasure, and pain and disrepute for all of us. And those constantly change. 

So the spiritual life is not about avoiding loss and blame and difficulty

but taking those difficulties that come to us and using them to awaken a wise and free and compassionate heart no matter what.

And often it’s in the very difficulties that the greatest freedom comes to us.

Jack Kornfield, Difficult Times and the Crystal of Liberation

Billions of ways

When we are afraid, the fear-body tends to contract. The word anxiety has its roots in the Latin word ‘angere’ meaning to choke, or become tight, constricted, trapped and limited. It is good to breathe into this body sense and to maintain an awareness of spaciousness and of choice. To lift our eyes up to the hills.

Listen my love, illumination is eternal

Now is always evolving.

As there are billions of stars

There are billions of steps.

As there are billions of souls

There are billions of ways to grow.