Monthly Archives: June 2010

Courage

“Self-awareness doesn’t arrive on a golden cloud. It’s an achievement won through pain and courage.” — Thomas Moore

Courage is amazing because it can tap in to the heart of fear, talking that frightened energy and turning it towards initiative, creativity, action and hope. When courage comes alive, imprisoning walls become frontiers of new possibility, difficulty becomes invitation and the heart comes into new rhythm of trust and sureness. There are secret sources of courage inside every human heart; yet courage needs to be awakened in us. The encounter with the Beautiful can bring such awakening. Courage is a spark that can become the flame of hope, lighting new and exciting pathways in what seemed to be dead, dark landscapes.” — John O’Donohue, “Beauty, The Invisible Embrace”

“You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.” — Aristotle

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” — Mary Anne Radmacher

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” — C.S. Lewis

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” — Anais Nin

“I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naive or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.” — Anais Nin

“I never thought much of the courage of a lion tamer. Inside the cage he is at least safe from people.” — George Bernard Shaw

“Take Courage! Whatever you decide to do, it will probably be the wrong thing.” — Ashleigh Brilliant

Singing (repost from June 2005)


Tony Abeyta, Singing Yeis

Rain comes, and birds —
Silhouettes against the pearlescent sky —
Respond excitedly in song.
They open their throats to heaven’s nectar,
And rhyme with the drops.

All of nature is song. Sometimes the song is in a minor key, with purple tones that stir the soul, bursting the heart with pent-up emotions. Sometimes it is joyous, full of rich melodies and grand chords that bring electric thrills. Sometimes it descends into strange modes, guttural chants, and obscure dissonances. It is up to each of us to sing as we feel moved by the overall song of life. Do we harmonize with it? Do we sing a counterpoint? Do we purposefully sound discordant tones?

Perhaps a student first encountering Tao endeavors to harmonize with it, but that isn’t all that there is to having a relationship with Tao. Tao gives us the background, the broad circumstances. It is up to us to fit into it, go against it, or even flutter off on oblique angles. Don’t look at Tao as one big inexorable stream in which we float like dead logs. What could that lead to except logjams?

No, let us be like the birds. Who sing when Tao sends them rain. Who know what to do when winter comes. Who embroider the sky with their own unique paths. Who will sing a counterpoint when they need to. Who will sing poetry that is discordant when it must be and rhymes when it is proper.

Deng Ming Tao, 365 Tao

“If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.”
— Chinese Proverb

“If I’m going to sing like someone else, then I don’t need to sing at all.” — Billie Holiday

“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” — Maya Angelou

“Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” — Henry Van Dyke

“The fish in the water is silent, the animals on the earth is noisy, the bird in the air is singing. But man has in him the silence of the sea, the noise of the earth and the music of the air.” — Rabindranath Tagore

“I have spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument while the song I came to sing remains unsung.” — Rabindranath Tagore

I’ve always been a singer. I loved to sing as a kid, and still do, even though I don’t do it very often nowadays. At one point I was a music theatre major, but the lack of any real job prospects led me to turn to engineering instead. It’s a bit surprising how many engineers are musicians as well. I love to sing, whether it’s just to myself, as part of a choir, or solo. I’m not sure why I don’t do it more often, except for lack of opportunity these days.

There are other ways of singing as well, even if it’s just an internal song that hums quietly along. Everyone has to find their own way of singing, their own voice. And not be afraid to use it.

Destiny

I don’t really think about having a destiny, or that anything is pre-destined. But it is amazing to me how often I can put a thought out there now and see it realized, seemingly through no action of my own. I have come to believe that the universe does take care of us, if we can trust it to do so. This isn’t so much a metaphysical belief as a Tao realization — by acting in accordance with nature, and with my own nature, I do help create the circumstances for what I want to be able to happen. And it is when I am not in accord with nature, or not listening to my own nature or that of others, that I most struggle to get what I (my ego, that is) want.

So perhaps a truer definition of destiny would be that it is what we find happening in our lives if we simply relax and allow life and our own nature to flow. When I can relax and trust that things will work out well, they typically do. And even if they are not working out well, if I’m relaxed and calm I’m certainly better able to deal with a situation. So, even if the universe isn’t on your side, why not believe that it is? It certainly isn’t out to get you, in any case. And a neutral attitude towards things, rather than a positive one, doesn’t really help to get anyone on your side. So being positive, approaching life as if good things are going to come your way, is not merely a Pollyana state but one that helps to create a better Destiny…

“Your destiny shall not be allotted to you, but you shall choose it for yourselves.” — Plato

I have to agree with Plato here.

“Destiny is something not be to desired and not to be avoided. a mystery not contrary to reason, for it implies that the world, and the course of human history, have meaning.” — Dag Hammarskjold

And Dag, it is good to believe your life has meaning.

“Almost nothing important that ever happens to you happens because you engineer it. Destiny has no beeper; destiny always leans trenchcoated out of an alley with some sort of “Pssst” that you usually can’t even hear because you’re in such a rush to or from something important you’ve tried to engineer.” — David Foster Wallace

I like this because it reminds us to be open to the unexpected, to allow good things into our lives even if we weren’t expecting them. On the other hand, don’t buy watches or jewelry from these people.

“No love, no friendship can cross the path of our destiny without leaving some mark on it forever.”
— Francois Muriac

My friendships certainly do leave their marks on me and my life. My loves, even more so. And I still love them all…

“Time draweth wrinkles in a fair face, but addeth fresh colors to a fast friend, which neither heat, nor cold, nor misery, nor place, nor destiny, can alter or diminish.” — John Lyly

I see new colors in my friends all the time, and I mostly ignore the wrinkles. If anything, they add character.

“We plan our lives according to a dream that came to us in our childhood, and we find that life alters our plans. And yet, at the end, from a rare height, we also see that our dream was our fate. It’s just that providence had other ideas as to how we would get there. Destiny plans a different route, or turns the dream around, as if it were a riddle, and fulfills the dream in ways we couldn’t have expected.” — Ben Okri

I don’t think I’ve ever had a straightforward path to my dreams, but they usually end up realized in some way. And I do like solving the riddles of my life…

Your thoughts on destiny???

Mystery

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The named is the mother of the ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
These two spring from the same source but differ in name;
this appears as darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gate to all mystery….

-– Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, 1

“The answer is never the answer. What’s really interesting is the mystery. If you seek the mystery instead of the answer, you’ll always be seeking. I’ve never seen anybody really find the answer — they think they have, so they stop thinking. But the job is to seek mystery, evoke mystery, plant a garden in which strange plants grow and mysteries bloom. The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer.” — Ken Kesey (from Whiskey River)

“There is a part of each of us that would like to miss the point — a part of each of us that wants to believe that there will be no magic, no mystery, that our own life is not blessed and sacred, that our days are not a miracle, and that we are not connected to all living beings as a leaf is to a tree. In response to this predicament, we have created yoga.” — Rolf Gates, Meditations from the Mat

“In the time of your life, live -– so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite variety and mystery of it.” — William Saroyan

“There is a point where in the mystery of existence contradictions meet; where movement is not all movement and stillness is not all stillness; where the idea and the form, the within and the without, are united; where infinite becomes finite, yet not.” — Rabindranath Tagore

“We must not allow the clock and the calendar to blind us to the fact that each moment of life is a miracle and mystery.” — H. G. Wells

“Our glory has nothing to do with our appearance or our occupation. Our special qualities come from an inner source. We must take care to open and bloom naturally and leisurely and keep to the center. It is from there that all mystery and power come, and it is good to let it unfold in its own time.”

— Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao

“At the source of our deepest self is a mysterious unknown ever eluding our grasp. We can never possess it except as that mystery which keeps at a distance. The heart’s quest is toward this unknown. There is no respite in the task of getting beyond the point we have already reached because the Spirit stands further on. She stands at the end of every road we may wish to travel by. The entire movement of our being seems to focus in this single point of identity, which will be realised in the encounter. We never ‘catch up with’ who we fundamentally are.”

The Feminist Mystic -Meinrad Craighead via sacredgraffiti

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.” — Albert Einstein

“We must be willing to fail and to appreciate the truth that often “Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived.”” — M. Scott Peck

Let mystery have its place in you; do not be always turning up your whole soil with the ploughshare of self-examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart ready for any seed the winds may bring…” — Henri Frederic Amiel

The Useless Tree: In case you're wondering if fewer posts is a bad thing…

In case you’re wondering if fewer posts is a bad thing…

To work at learning brings more each day. To work at Way brings less each day.

Less and still less, until you’re doing nothing yourself. And when you’re doing nothing yourself, there’s nothing you don’t do.

To grasp all beneath heaven, leave it alone. Leave it alone, that’s all, and nothing in all beneath heaven will elude you.

Daodejing, 48

via The Useless Tree: In case you’re wondering if fewer posts is a bad thing….

Breakthrough (repost from 2005)

Swans, solo flying, L.jpg

Lake shadows color of cold,
Willow branches weep ice.
Swan rises dazzling in the sunlight.

After long self-cultivation, one’s accumulated energy reaches a threshold and then bursts out full, breathing, and vibrant. Without the careful building of momentum, this moment of release would never have been possible. With long years of preparation and experience, the freeing of the soul will not be mere dissipation but will be so strongly focused that it lifts one into a higher state of awareness. When one’s spiritual energy emerges, it feels like a swan rising from the water.

Once you have reached this level of stored energy, you will be a different person. On one hand, you may take genuine comfort in the point of attainment that you have made. On the other had, you now see all the other possibilities that remain for you to explore.

With the emergence of great possibilities comes the need for responsibility. If you diverge from your life’s path in order to explore new vistas, remember how far you are flying, and remember to return at the proper times. Only you can decide how to arrange your life. Once you are a strong flier, you must still use wisdom to direct your flight.

Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao

(2005 comments)

I have rather mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, it is great to think that at some point, there will be a breakthrough and from that point on everything will be a wonderful flight of the soul. The problem comes when we sit around waiting for some breakthrough instead of simply enjoying our lives for what they are. The real breakthrough, it seems, is to realize that you can find happiness and fulfillment in the everyday, the ordinary, and that you don’t have to wait for some altered state or breakthrough of the soul or some fantastic ecstatic experience to happen.

Life is full of extraordinary possibilities. So what. Life is full of ordinary life, too. Enjoy ordinary life to its fullest, and it will all seem extraordinary. That is the real breakthrough.

(2010 comments)

I think I had a pretty good Tao response to this when I first read it. I think since then, I’ve had my breakthrough, I have come to the point where I’m now ready to fly off and explore new vistas, as I am this week in heading to Hawaii. I think the reassurance for me in re-reading this now is to know that I will be returning at the proper time, coming back to the day to day responsibilities here that right now I am so eager to take a break from.

At this point in my life I am learning how to counsel others, and helping to try to expand the Tao influence (whatever that is) into the people I come across. Tao is work without effort, so this should be effortless for me. I feel the pieces coming into my life, gathering closer, and the tools are beginning to fall into my hands. I know how to fly. What I do not yet know is, the vistas where I will land, and how to know the proper time to return. But I think those things will come to me. Return is the way of the Tao.

Aloha again

We’re going to be headed to Hawaii in less than a week! I’m hoping to be able to revisit this beautiful beach, the one where I dropped my parents’ ashes into the ocean. The current off this coast runs straight to Tahiti, so I thought that might be a nice place to let them go. Don’t know if they ever made it to Tahiti, of course, but I like to imagine them there, as part of some gorgeous reef perhaps.

We’ll only be visiting the island of Kauai, where my parents’ timeshare was located and that I inherited. So no exploring the big island this time and finding its farthest reaches. I actually kind of like the more limited location trips. I really enjoyed going to Paris and just seeing the city last year, not feeling like we had to get out and see all of France or all of Europe or whatever. I think it made us feel more connected to the place we were visiting. So this time, we’ll really get to know Kauai well and connect there, and find the less traveled spots that we will enjoy even more.

And I’m taking along my best friend from grade school and high school and her husband, so this will be a fun trip indeed! Can’t wait!