The witness

There is one technique which is known as adopting the role of the witness – and holding onto that role – ultimately, to the exclusion of all roles. The witness is not evaluative. It does not judge your actions. It merely notes them.  This point is important. Most of the time the inner voices of most people are continually evaluative. “I’m good for doing this” or “I’m bad for doing that.” You must make that evaluative role an object of contemplation as well. Keep in mind that the witness does not care whether you become enlightened or not. It merely notes how it all is.

Ram Daas, Be Here Now

Letting go of self development

When we seek happiness through accumulation, either outside of ourselves – from other people, relationships, or material goods – or from our own self-development, we are missing the essential point. In either case we are trying to find completion. But according to Buddhism, such a strategy is doomed. 

Completion comes not from adding another piece to ourselves but from surrendering our ideas of perfection.

Mark Epstein, Going to Pieces without Falling Apart: A Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness

Seeing land

The ocean of suffering is immense, but if you turn around, you can see the land. The seed of suffering in you may be strong, but don’t wait until you have no more suffering before allowing yourself to be happy. When one tree in the garden is sick, you have to care for it. But don’t overlook all the healthy trees. Even while you have pain in your heart, you can enjoy the many wonders of life — the beautiful sunset, the smile of a child, the many flowers and trees. To suffer is not enough. Please don’t be imprisoned by your suffering.

 Thich Nhat Hanh

Living in our heads

The Pueblo Indian told me that all Americans were always uneasy and restless, “We do not understand them. We think that they are mad” Of course I was somewhat astonished and asked them why. They said – Well, ‘They say that they think with their heads . . . . We think here,’ he said, indicating his heart

Carl Jung, on his encounter with a Native American elder he met in New Mexico in 1925

 

 

The most important thing we can do

Non-doing has nothing to do with being indolent or passive. Quite the contrary. It takes great courage and energy to cultivate non-doing, both in stillness and in activity. Nor is it easy to make a special time for non-doing and to keep at it in the face of everything in our lives which needs to be done.

Jon Kabat Zinn