We cannot adequately describe how anyone. or any event or idea influences us or will influence us in a deeply meaningful way, any more than we can adequately describe a loving relationship or how it will unfold. But we certainly can honor those individuals, events, and ideas that we believe nurture our lives by sharing our awareness of them with others.
So, here are the first few items in what will be a continuing series of postings pertaining to significant personal sources of inspiration. In general, the citations below pertain to a major focus for anyone exploring her or his spiritual nature, namely, the reality that transcends or underlies our process of thinking about ourselves and our world.
About the mystery underlying all of reality.
The highest to which we can attain is wonder; and if the prime phenomenon makes us wonder, let us be content; nothing higher can be given, and nothing further need be sought; here is the limit.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Cited in Alan Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity (1951), p. 151.
[Text adjusted by me (pdc) to reflect an inclusive mindset.]
On the “unitive principle” underlying human consciousness.
Before thought there is a ground, a principle, a primal reality. That this reality may be realized by the human person is the principle of spiritual enlightenment and of the wisdom traditions.
Beneath the ordinary human ego and its operations there lies another Self, which participates immediately in the primal ground. This has been called, in the various traditions, atman, Buddha-mind, Christ-self, unity consciousness, inner man. The ascetic and monastic ways of life, with their simplicity, solitude, and silence, respond to the magnetism of the ground and of this inner Self.
The primal ground, however, is not only the focus of the spiritual seeker, but the basis of every act of human consciousness. Scientific and philosophical thought, artistic creation, human relationship, and even political activity are driven by the inner unitive principle.
From: Bruno Barnhart, Second Simplicity (1999), p. 11
About the limitation of thinking.
Thought is the response of memory, and memory is always partial because memory is the result of experience, so thought is the reaction of a mind that is conditioned by experience. All thinking, all experience, all knowledge is inevitably partial; therefore, thought cannot solve the many problems that we have. You may try to reason logically, sanely, about these many problems, but if you observe your own mind you will see that your thinking is conditioned by your circumstances, by the culture in which you were born, by the food you eat, by the climate you live in, by the newspapers you read, by the pressures and influences of your daily life.
So we must understand very clearly that our thinking is the response of memory, and memory is mechanistic. Knowledge is ever incomplete, and all thinking born of knowledge is limited, partial, never free. So there is no freedom of thought. But we can begin to discover a freedom which is not a process of thought, and in which the mind is simply aware of all its conflicts and of all the influences impinging upon it.
From: J. Krishnamurti, The Book of Life (1995), meditation for Sept. 12
About the ultimate reality (the Way / the Tao) that cannot be named.
Tao called Tao is not Tao.
Names can name no lasting name.
Nameless: the origin of heaven and earth.
Naming: the mother of ten thousand things.
Empty of desire, perceive mystery.
Filled with desire, perceive manifestations.
These have the same source, but different names.
Call them both deep –
Deep and again deep:
The gateway to all mystery.
Poem # 1 from: Lao-Tzu, Tao Te Ching.
Translated by Stephen Addiss & Stanley Lombardo (1993)