We cannot adequately describe how any person, idea or event 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 can certainly honor those individuals, ideas, and events that we believe nurture our lives by sharing our awareness of them with others. Here are a few items (which will be updated periodically) that I believe provides the kind of fundamental spiritual wisdom we need to nourish us on an ongoing basis.
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 [as cited in Alan Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity (1951), p. 151].
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
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).
True forgiveness is beyond the will alone—rising as the expression of inner freedom, it comes from the greater consciousness beyond the personality and ego-driven mind.
Birth and death are the most sacred of thresholds. You can only feel intense humility and reverence before the mystery of these transitions that transcend the ordinary personality and the mind. As mystery presses close, there is a profound opening to grace. You begin to realize the truth of what all the mystical traditions teach—death is not the loss of the physical body but the mind-made separation from the Spirit. The only death we ever know is to become unconscious of the true immensity of life.
Diversity is holy. The dazzling play of relationship within the diversity of form is the expression of the inherent sacredness of life.
From: Eleanor O’Hanlon, Eyes of the Wild: Journeys of Transformation with the Animal Powers (Winchester UK / Washington USA: Earth Books, 2012; pp. 67; 207-208; 250).
THE WORLD I LIVE IN
I have refused to live
locked in the orderly house of
reasons and proofs.
The world I live in and believe in
is wider than that. And anyway,
what’s wrong with Maybe? …
WHAT GORGEOUS THING
I do not know what gorgeous thing
the bluebird keeps saying,
his voice easing out of his throat,
beak, body into the pink air
of the early morning. I like it
whatever it is. Sometimes
it seems the only thing in the world
that is without dark thoughts.
Sometimes it seems the only thing
in the world that is without
questions that can’t and probably
never will be answered, the
only thing that is entirely content
with the pink, then clear white
morning and, gratefully, says so.
AT BLACKWATER POND
At Blackwater Pond the tossed waters have settled
after a night of rain.
I dip my cupped hands. I drink
a long time. It tastes
like stone, leaves, fire. It falls cold
into my body, waking the bones. I hear them
deep inside me, whispering
oh what is that beautiful thing
that just happened?
From: Mary Oliver, Devotions (New York: Penguin Press, 2017; pp. 5, 28, 393).