The practice of non-opposition

Do not become annoyed when faced with difficulties.

To do so merely adds difficulty to difficulty and further disturbs your mind.

By maintaining a mind of peace and non-opposition,

difficulties will naturally fall away.

Sheng-Yen (1931-2009) Resident teacher at the Chan Meditation Center in Elmhurst, New York

No destination in mind

The mark of a moderate man
is freedom from his own ideas.
Tolerant like the sky,
all-pervading like sunlight,
firm like a mountain,
supple like a tree in the wind,
he has no destination in view
and makes use of anything
life happens to bring his way.

Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, 59, translated Stephen Mitchell 

Our friend this challenge

Dealing with any of our life’s difficulties is not a battle to be fought. Instead, we must learn how to make friends with our hardships and challenges. They are there to help us; they are natural opportunities for deeper understanding and transformation, bringing us more joy and peace as we learn to work with them

Thich Nhat Hanh

On seeing the tree blossom

I was reminded of these texts – one Christian, one zen – driving to work on Monday and seeing the blossoms and buds return to the trees. Both speak of profound inner experiences – one when just 18, the other after 30 years of searching – just on seeing the blossoms bloom, the leaves fall, the branches grow, and the new leaves appearing. Miracles in everyday life which we rush past each day. 

In the winter I saw a tree stripped of its leaves and I knew that within a little time the leaves would be renewed, and that afterwards the flowers and the fruit would appear. From this I received a profound view of the care of God which has never since left my soul. The view I grasped that day freed me completely and kindled in me such a love for God that I cannot say that  it has increased during the more than forty years since that time.

Brother Lawrence, 1693, The Practice of the Presence of God. 

For thirty years, I have been looking for the sword,
How many times have the leaves fallen and the branches grown anew?
But then once I saw the peach blossoms,
 and from then up to now, I have never had any more doubts.

Lingyun Zhiqin, dates unknown,  Searching for Thirty Years

A new month

Be passionate about some part of the natural and/or human worlds and take risks on its behalf, no matter how vulnerable they make you. No one ever died saying, “I’m sure glad for the self-centered, self-serving and self-protective life I lived.”

Offer yourself to the world — your energies, your gifts, your visions, your heart — with open-hearted generosity. But understand that when you live that way you will soon learn how little you know and how easy it is to fail.

To grow in love and service, you — I, all of us — must value ignorance as much as knowledge and failure as much as success… Clinging to what you already know and do well is the path to an unlived life. So, cultivate beginner’s mind, walk straight into your not-knowing, and take the risk of failing and falling again and again, then getting up again and again to learn — that’s the path to a life lived large, in service of love, truth, and justice.

Parker Palmer, The Six Pillars of the Wholehearted Life, Commencement Address,  Naropa University