Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. But I try to work one day at a time. If we just worry about the big picture, we are powerless. So my secret is to start right away doing whatever little work I can do. I try to give joy to one person in the morning, and remove the suffering of one person in the afternoon. That’s enough.
When you see you can do that, you continue, and you give two little joys, and you remove two little sufferings, then three, and then four. If you and your friends do not despise the small work, a million people will remove a lot of suffering. That is the secret. Start right now.
Sister Chân Không
The universe does not revolve around us.
The stars and planets,
spinning through the ballroom of space,
dance with one another
quite outside of our small life.
We cannot hold gravity or seasons;
even air and water inevitably evade our grasp.
Why not, then, let go?
We could move through time
like a shark through water,
neither restless or ceasing,
absorbed in and absorbing the native element.
Why pretend we can do otherwise?
The world comes in at every pore,
mixes in our blood
before breath releases us into the world again.
Did we think the fragile boundary of our skin
could build a wall?
Every molecule is humming its particular pitch.
Of course we are a symphony.
Whose tune do we think
the planets are singing
as they dance?
Lynn Ungar, Boundaries
Advent starts today, the period of looking forward to Christmas, but more deeply, it is a good season to look at desire and longing. There is a type of hole at the heart of human subjectivity, which gives rise to a perpetual cause of desire. In traditions, both East and West, it is understood that this desire, this restlessness or emptiness, will never go away. Indeed, it the this emptiness which gives rise to a longing that takes us beyond ourselves. Advertisers try to lure us into the belief that we can make this longing go away, encouraging us to think that once we we get this thing or feeling we will be at rest.
Dear soul, if you were not friends
with the vast nothing inside,
why would you always be casting your net
into it, and waiting so patiently?
This is the irrational season
when love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason
there’d have been no room for the child
Madeleine L’Engle, 1918 – 2007, American author
“All is always now,” says T. S. Eliot.
This statement implies a profound insight: Not only is the now not in time; time is in the now.
When the future comes, it will be now, and any past event becomes now as we remember it. There is only one now. It cannot be multiplied; it simply is.
The now is the opposite of time.
In fact, this is Augustine’s definition: “Eternity is the now that does not pass away.”
A happiness anchored in the now is eternal.
David Steindl-Rast, A Basic Human Approach to Happiness
photo Brian Robert Marshall
Small moments or days are enough to see the richness of life, if we are able to pay attention and give ourselves fully:
What is this dark hum among the roses?
The bees have gone simple, sipping,
that’s all. What did you expect? Sophistication?
They’re small creatures and they are
filling their bodies with sweetness, how could they not
moan in happiness? The little
worker bee lives, I have read, about three weeks.
Is that long? Long enough, I suppose, to understand
that life is a blessing.
Mary Oliver, Hum