Through difficulties..

I know from my personal experience that out of pathos (great suffering) we come to know pothos (our sense of emerging self).

Through the portal of the intolerable, we deepen into soul.

Stephen Aizenstat, Dream Tending: Awakening to the Healing Power of Dreams

Hope is a choice

The other spiritual discipline and way to stay grounded is that however seriously we must take what’s happening in the world and what the headlines are reflecting, it is never the full story of our time. It’s not the last word on what we’re capable of. It’s not the whole story of us. And we have to take that other narrative that’s not reaching the headline point, which is a very specific bar. Journalism, the way it came down to us from the 20th century, is absolutely focused, utterly and completely, on what is catastrophic, corrupt, and failing. And then, at the same time, there are good people. There are healing initiatives. There is a narrative of healing and of hope and of goodness, and we also just, as a discipline, have to take that in, as well — not instead of, but the both/and of humanity and of our world.

And I think it’s only in doing that that we keep flexing and strengthening our hope muscle. Hope is a muscle. It’s a choice. It is a vigorous choice, to see what is wrong and what needs healing and needs repair and needs our attention and also to keep our hearts and our imaginations and our energy oriented towards what we want to build, what we want to create, what we’re walking towards.

Krista Tippett, On Being Blog

Appreciating life

There’s a kind of white moth, I don’t know
what kind, that glimmers
by mid-May
in the forest, just
as the pink mocassin flowers
are rising.

If you notice anything,
it leads you to notice
and more.

And anyway
I was so full of energy.
I was always running around, looking
at this and that….

Finally, I noticed enough.
All around me in the forest
the white moths floated.

How long do they live, fluttering
in and out of the shadows?

You aren’t much, I said
one day to my reflection
in a green pond,
and grinned.

Mary Oliver, Moths (extracts) 

Allow things to blow through

More wise words from the Thai Forest tradition for when times are uncertain

When you are in an emotionally rocky state, the most skilful response may simply be to receive what you are feeling at the present moment with some clarity and sympathy; to sit quietly and allow things to blow through. Whatever the state, the initial response has to be –  stay present and cultivate spaciousness. The way that cause and effect work is that even five minutes of not acting on or suppressing the present mind-state results in some kind of ease of diminution of pressure. Then we begin to recognize a natural sanity, a seed of Awakening that’s there when the doing stops. It’s not far off. But we do need to get in touch with and encourage it. 

Ajahn Sucitto, Kamma and the End of Kamma

How it is

Of course we can always imagine more perfect conditions, how it should be ideally, how everyone should behave. But it is not our task to create an ideal. It’s our task to see how it is, and to learn from the world as it is. For the awakening of the heart, conditions are always good enough.

Ajahn Sumedho

Dropping the storyline

What does it look like to drop the story line of “me”? There was a baseball movie out recently in which a star pitcher is facing a star batter at a crucial point in the game. The pitcher is having a hard time focusing. He’s thinking about what would happen if the batter got a hit. He’s distracted by the fifty thousand fans shouting and waving. Then he says to himself, “Clear the mechanism.” All of a sudden the sound level in the movie drops into silence. Even though the fans are still moving and waving, you no longer hear them, reflecting what the pitcher is experiencing as he disengages from his own emotional noise. Then he says to himself, “Now just throw the ball to the catcher, like you’ve done a million times before.” In “clearing the mechanism” he was turning away from his preoccupation with the mental noise of “me,” from his fear-based thoughts about imagined results, about himself as a star, as someone special. Then he could enter the direct experience of simply throwing the ball.

Ezra Bayda, How to Live a Genuine Life