So, let us reflect on what is truly of value in life, what gives meaning to our lives, and set our priorities on the basis of that. The purpose of our life needs to be positive. We weren’t born with the purpose of causing trouble, harming others. For our life to be of value, I think we must develop basic good human qualities—warmth, kindness, compassion. Then our life becomes meaningful and more peaceful—happier.
~Tenzin Gyatso, the Dalai Lama XIV
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We too should make ourselves empty, that the great soul
of the universe may fill us with its breath.
We live our long, worn days in the shadows, in what often feels like barren, cold winter, so unaware of the miracles that are being created in our spirits. It takes the sudden daylight, some unexpected surprise of life, to cause our gaze to look upon a simple, stunning growth that has happened quietly inside us. Like frost designs on a winter window, they bring us beyond life’s fragmentation and remind us that we are not nearly as lost as we thought we were, that all the time we thought we were dead inside, beautiful things were being born in us.
Praying Our Goodbyes
For all the hardships that life throws at us, I have always felt that life keeps living. Perhaps not in the same form or in a way that is recognizable. But life keeps pulsing under everything. And no matter the pain or confusion I face, something in me keeps reaching for that irrepressible pulse. This poem comes from my reaching.
A FEW TURNS OF THE MOON
From the balcony of this restaurant, I watch
a hundred lives below: burrowing and laughing
and finding their way. And perhaps because
I’ve lost my father and our beloved dog in the
last year, perhaps because at sixty-three, I see
over the final hill more clearly, I also see the
hundreds on the other side, still burrowing
and laughing and finding their way. I don’t
know if this is alarming or a comfort: that
we go on the same, that the gleam pressed
out of every hardship is the jewel of existence,
here and on the other side. So I spoon my
soup and sip my wine, knowing the balcony
is the gutter and the gutter is the balcony,
that the dark waits all curled up in the light,
and the light, thank God, waits all curled up
in the dark.
Darkness deserves gratitude. It is the alleluia point at which we learn
to understand that all growth does not take place in the sunlight.
Why is more and more always better if it can never be enough?
Spirituality & Health
The Zen of Gratitude
There is a tendency in us to find suffering aversive, so we want to distance ourselves from it. Like if you have a toothache, it becomes that toothache. It’s not us anymore. It’s that tooth. And so if there are people suffering, you want to look at them on television or meet them but then keep a distance from them, because you are afraid you will drown in it. You are afraid you will drown in a pain that will be unbearable – and the fact of the matter is you have to. You finally have to, because if you close your heart down to anything in the universe, it’s got you. You are then at the mercy of suffering.
And then having finally dealt with suffering, you have to consume it into yourself. Which means you have to – with eyes open – be able to keep your heart open in hell. You have to look at what is, and say, “Yeah, Right.” And what it involves is bearing the unbearable. And in a way, who you think you are can’t do it. Who you really are can do it. So that who you think you are dies in the process.