The breath is not something that we create or imagine; it is a natural process of our bodies that continues as long as life lasts, whether we concentrate on it or not. So it is an object that is always present; we can turn to it at any time. We don’t have to have any qualifications to watch our breath. We do not even need to be particularly intelligent — all we have to do is to be content with, and aware of, one inhalation and exhalation.
Wisdom does not come from studying great theories and philosophies, but from observing the ordinary.
Ajahn Sumedho, Now is the Knowing
Someone sits wakeful through the dark night,
thinking of some way to find the day.
Though they do not know how to get there,
still, in waiting for daylight,
the day approaches.
All delusions begin in the mind
All delusions are based on various ways we’re talking to ourselves
and then believing what we are saying.
If you remember nothing else, always remember this one great secret of spiritual practice: we don’t have to feel any particular way. We don’t have to have special experiences, nor do we have to be any particular way. With whatever arises, whether it’s pleasing or not, try to remember that all we can do is experience and work with whatever our life is right now. No matter what life is and no matter how we feel about it, all that matters in practice is whether we can honestly acknowledge what is going on, and then stay present with the physical experience of that moment.
Ezra Bayda, Zen Heart
We have to be patient with ourselves. Over and over again we think we need to be somewhere else, and we must find the truth right here, right now; we must find our joy here, now. How seductive it is, the thought of tomorrow. We must find our understanding here. We must find it here; it is always here; this is where the grass is green.
John Tarrant, Calling on the name of Avalokiteshvara
Sometimes you do your best but you are met with mistrust, or things don’t quite work out as planned:
Somebody says something to you that is designed to hurt. Instead of going into unconscious reaction and negativity, such as attack, defense, or personal withdrawal, you let it pass right through you. Offer no resistance. It is as if there is nobody there to get hurt anymore. That is forgiveness. In this way, you become invulnerable. You can still tell that person that his or her behavior is unacceptable, if that is what you choose to do. But that person no longer has the power to control your inner state. You are then in your power — not in someone else’s, nor are you run by your mind. Whether it is a car alarm, a rude person, a flood, an earthquake, or the loss of all your possessions, the mechanism is the same.
Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now.