Keeping the heart open

It is not easy to keep the heart open in moments of fear and anxiety

The covenant of life is not just to stay alive, but to stay in our aliveness. And staying in aliveness depends on opening the heart and keeping it open. Our dreams, goals, and ambitions are all kindling, fuel for the heart to exercise its aliveness, to bring our gift into the world, to discover what matters.

We drift in and out of knowing our aliveness. Pain, worry, fear, and loss can muffle and confuse us. But finding our gift and working it will bring us back alive. It doesn’t matter if we’re skillful or clumsy, if we play our gift well or awkwardly, or if we make great strides or fail. Aliveness is not a judge in a talent show. Aliveness shows itself in response to wholeheartedness, when we can say yes to life, and work with what we’re given, and stay in relationship – to everything.

Mark Nepo, The One Life We’re Given: Finding the Wisdom That Waits in Your Heart

Give, not get

On the spiritual path, there’s nothing to get, and everything to get rid of.

Obviously, the first thing to let go of is trying to “get” love, and instead to give it. That’s the secret of the spiritual path. One has to give oneself wholeheartedly. If we want to be loved, we are looking for a support system. If we want to love, we are looking for spiritual growth. Love is the warmth of the heart, the connectedness, the protection, the caring, the concern, the embrace that comes from acceptance & understanding for oneself. Having practiced that, we are in a much better position to practice love toward others. We realize they are just as unlovable as we are, and they have just as many unwholesome thoughts. But that doesn’t matter. When we relate to other people, we can let them just be and love them

Ayya Khema

Saying No

Although it seems like a contradiction, saying no is actually an act of compassion for others, because when we do things that aren’t appropriate or we’re just too damn tired to fully participate in, they only get a piece of us — a small, crabby piece, if you are anything like me. And it shows compassion for ourselves, a reminder that we’re just as precious as everyone else and sometimes we need to be nurtured as well.

Geri Larkin, Tap Dancing in Zen

Magnificence in every moment

When you become enlightened it can come about through a very small or ordinary thing. You see, the most difficult thing for someone to accept is the plainness of their life. To discover magnificence in every moment of a simple life is truly life’s greatest reward.

Hua-Ching Ni, Entering the Tao

True home

You should go home to your hermitage; it is inside you. Close the doors, light the fire, and make it cozy again. That is what I call ‘taking refuge in the island of self.’ If you don’t go home to yourself, you continue to lose yourself. You destroy yourself and you destroy people around you, even if you have goodwill and want to do something to help. That is why the practice of going home to the island of self is so important. No one can take your true home away.

Thich Nhat Hahn, Peace Begins Here