Sunshine after a cloudy weekend: The parts of a life

Perhaps there is more understanding and beauty in life when the glaring sunlight is softened by the patterns of shadows. Perhaps there is more depth in a relationship that has weathered some storms. Experience that never disappoints or saddens or stirs up feeling is a bland experience with little challenge or variation of color. Perhaps it’s when we experience confidence and faith and hope that we see materialize before our eyes this builds up within us a feeling of inner strength, courage, and security. We are all personalities that grow and develop as a result of our experiences, relationships, thoughts, and emotions. We are the sum total of all the parts that go into the making of a life.

Virginia Axline, Dibs, In Search of Self

Why not use all the moments today?

The concept of wasted time doesn’t exist for a meditator. Little dead spaces during your day can be turned into profit. Every spare moment can be used for meditation. Sitting anxiously in the dentist’s office, meditate on your anxiety. Feeling irritated while standing in a line at the bank, meditate on irritation. Bored, twiddling your thumbs at the bus stop, meditate on that boredom. Try to stay alert and aware throughout the day. Be mindful of exactly what is taking place right now, even if it is tedious drudgery. Take advantage of the moments you are alone. Take advantage of activities that are largely mechanical. Use every spare second to be mindful. Use all the moments you can.



Today is the first day of Spring. The weather is beautiful here at the moment and it is easy to feel the “joys of spring”. The cherry blossom and magnolia trees are in bloom. Time passes quickly. I can remember taking photographs of the same magnolia tree last year.  Short  term joys come easily; Long term happiness develops when we see into their true nature:

In Spring, hundreds of flowers.
In Summer, refreshing breeze.
In Autumn, a harvest moon.
In Winter, snowflakes accompany you.

If you do not have
the upside-down views
every season is
a good season for you.

Buddhist classic texts (translated by Eido Shimano Roshi)

When things feel heavy

When we feel heavy, or are weary, and we want to rise from all that saddens our souls, we can turn to nature these days as it stirs from its winter slumber, and let it nourish and give wings to our imagination:

In spring the blue azures bow down
at the edges of shallow puddles
to drink the black rain water.
Then they rise and float away into the fields.

Sometimes the great bones of my life feel so heavy,
and all the tricks my body knows–
the opposable thumbs, the kneecaps,
and the mind clicking and clicking–

don’t seem enough to carry me through this
world, and I think: how I would like

to have wings–
blue ones–
ribbons of flame.

How I would like to open them, and rise
from the black rain water.

And then I think of Blake, in the dirt and sweat of London–a boy staring through the window, when God came fluttering up.

Of course, he screamed, seeing the bobbin of God’s blue body
leaning on the sill, and the thousand-faceted eyes.

Well, who knows. Who knows what hung, fluttering, at the window
between him and the darkness.

Anyway, Blake the hosier’s son stood up, and turned away from the sooty sill and the
dark city– turned away forever from the factories, the personal strivings,

to a life of the imagination.

Mary Oliver, Blue Azures

Smile, life is good

How can you remember to smile when you wake up?  You might hang a reminder–such as a branch, a leaf, a painting, or some inspiring words – so that you notice it when you wake up.

Once you develop the practice of smiling, you may not need a reminder. You will smile as soon as you hear a bird singing or see the sunlight streaming through the window.

Smiling helps you approach the day with gentleness and understanding.

Thich Nhat Hahn