Something is always far away.

We treat desire as a problem to be solved, address what desire is for and focus on that something and how to acquire it,  rather than on the nature and the sensation of desire……. I wonder sometimes whether with a slight adjustment of perspective it could be cherished as a sensation on its own terms, since it is as inherent to the human condition as blue is to distance? If you can look across the distance without wanting to close it up, if you can own your longing in the same way that you own the beauty of that blue that can never be possessed? For something of this longing will, like the blue of distance, only be relocated, not assuaged, by acquisition and arrival, just as the mountains cease to be blue when you arrive among them and the blue instead tints the next beyond. Somewhere in this is the mystery of why tragedies are more beautiful than comedies and why we take a huge pleasure in the sadness of certain songs and stories. Something is always far away.

Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Of and from

Our modern Western culture only recognizes the first of these, freedom of desires. It then worships such a freedom by enshrining it at the forefront of national constitutions and bills of human rights. One can say that the underlying creed of most Western democracies is to protect their people’s freedom to realize their desires, as far as this is possible. It is remarkable that in such countries people do not feel very free. The second kind of freedom, freedom from desires, is celebrated only in some religious communities. It celebrates contentment, peace that is free from desires.

Ajahn Brahm, Opening the Door of Your Heart

Getting lost

The word “lost” comes from the Old Norse los meaning the disbanding of an army, and this origin suggests soldiers falling out of formation to go home, a truce with the wide world. I worry now that many people never disband their armies, never go beyond what they know.  Advertising, alarmist news, technology, incessant busyness, and the design of public and private life conspire to make it so.  A recent article about the return of wildlife to suburbia described snow-covered yards in which the footprints of animals are abundant and those of children are entirely absent. As far as the animals are concerned, the suburbs are an abandoned landscape, and so they roam with confidence. Children seldom roam, even in the safest places.

Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to getting Lost

 

We are weak

Weakness is at the heart of each one of us. Weakness becomes a place of chaos and confusion, if in our weakness we are not wanted; it becomes a place of peace and joy, if we are accepted, listened to, appreciated and loved.

Some people are infuriated by weakness. Weakness awakens hardness and anger in them.  But to deny weakness as part of life is to deny death, because weakness speaks to us of the ultimate powerlessness, of death itself.  To be small, to be sick, to be dying, are stages of powerless, they appear to us to be anti-life and so we deny them.

 If we deny our weakness and the reality of death, if we want to be powerful and strong always, we deny part of our being, we live an illusion. To be human is to accept who we are, this mixture of strength and weakness

Jean Vanier,  Becoming Human

When we fall down

A student asked master Sozan, “The teachings say that everyone who falls down on the ground must stand up again by relying on the ground. What is the meaning of to fall down?”

Sozan said, “If you affirm the situation, that is the answer.”

The student said, “What is the meaning of standing up?”

Sozan said, “Just stand up!”

“What is it to fall down?”

Sozan, Chinese Chan/Zen master, died 606 AD

We think hitting the ground, knocking over the barrier is a mistake, but the ground we hit, the failure we experience is not a mistake. The world is endlessly mysterious, experience is profound to a degree that will always surprise us. But it is never a mistake. To foster even a meager appreciation of that (and when we’re in the midst of a fall, meager is pretty big) is to begin to practice… It is the decision to stop complaining and to start paying attention. Contained in the fall is exactly what we need to stand. Everything we need is available, but we have to invite it. What is it to invite reality? 

Bonnie Myotai Treace Sensei M.R.O, Dogen Cubed

Juggling your life

This is a poem for someone
who is juggling her life.
Be still sometimes.
Be still sometimes.

It needs repeating
over and over
to catch her attention
over and over,
as someone who is juggling her life
finds it difficult to hear.

Be still sometimes.
Be still sometimes.
Let it all fall sometimes.

Rose Cook, A Poem for Someone Who is Juggling Her Life