The ancients are right: the dear old human experience is a singular, difficult, shadowed, brilliant experience that does not resolve into being comfortable in the world. The valley of the shadow is part of that, and you are depriving yourself if you do not experience what humankind has experienced, including doubt and sorrow. We experience pain and difficulty as failure instead of saying, I will pass through this, everyone I have ever admired has passed through this, music has come out of this, literature has come out of it. We should think of our humanity as a privilege.
Marilynne Robinson, The Art of Fiction, No. 198
Emptiness refers to the fact that things are not as solid and real as they seem. something that we hold in our hands might appear completely solid and unchanging, but that’s an illusion. Whatever it may be, it is changing all the time, and when we investigate, we find change and fluidity where before we assumed permanence and solidity. This does not make the phenomenal world nothing; at the same time, its essential nature is not what we usually think it is.
Yongey Mingpur Rinoche, In Love with the World
As one matures,
a greater tolerance of ambiguity
is essential both for growth
and as a measure of respect for the autonomy of the mystery.
James Hollis, Tracking the Gods
The mind creates a lot of the dramas in our lives, often making them more frightening than they actually are.
Most of us, in some way, struggle with fear — instinctually tensing against it or becoming overwhelmed by it. Shifting our relationship with fear is central to the evolution of consciousness. While fear is a natural, intelligent emotion, when it goes into overdrive, we are in a trance that contracts our body, heart and mind. Our resistance to fear sustains this trance and perpetuates our suffering. As we learn to attend to fear with mindfulness and care, its grip loosens, and we reconnect with our full aliveness, wisdom and love.
Our awareness of our depth of being is fleeting. Yet just because we close our eyes doesn’t mean the sun has disappeared. And just because we can’t keep the unquestionable fact of being alive in view doesn’t mean that the inherent vitality of life has disappeared. We are more than what happens to us. We are more than what we think or fear. The turbulence we encounter is very real, but underneath what happens to us is the inherent, unwavering fact of life filling us from within.
Mark Nepo, The One Life We’re Given: Finding the Wisdom That Waits in Your Heart
There is something, prior to heaven and earth,
Without form, without sound, all alone by itself.
It has the power to control all the changing things;
Yet it does not change itself through the course of the four seasons.
Fu Ta-shih, c 497 AD