Favorite Quotes and Poems

Thomas Merton on stillness/violence
(quoted in Legacy of the Heart: Spiritual Advantages of a Painful Childhood, Wayne Muller, p. 102) .

“There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence…[and that is] activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence.

To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence.

The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”

From “I Sit Listening to the Wind: Woman’s Encounter Within Herself” by Judith Duerk
(Author of Circle of Stones: Woman’s Journey to Herself)

How might your life have been different if, once when you were young, struggling to fulfill what you thought ought to be done, but afraid that there would never be time enough for you … something had quietly drawn you to go for a walk in the woods? If you had slowly walked away from the noise crowding in on you … until you heard, from within yourself, a silence you had almost forgotten?

If, as you watched the dappled shadows on the ground around you, the wind had suddenly stilled … and there was a silence so profound that you entered a new sense of time … of time stretching out before you? And you knew that there would be time enough to let your whole life emerge.

How might your life be different?

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters by Portia Nelson

Chapter 1.
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter 2.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter 3.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter 4.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter 5.
I walk down another street.

Guest House – Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Tao Te Ching (Translated Stephen Mitchell, #64)

What is rooted is easy to nourish.
What is recent is easy to correct.
What is brittle is easy to break.
What is small is easy to scatter.

Prevent trouble before it arises.
Put things in order before they exist.
The giant pine tree
grows from a tiny sprout.
The journey of a thousand miles
starts from beneath your feet.

Rushing into action, you fail.
Trying to grasp things, you lose them.
Forcing a project to completion,
you ruin what was almost ripe.

Therefore, the master takes action
by letting things take their course.
He remains as calm
at the end as at the beginning.
He has nothing,
thus has nothing to lose.
What he desires is non-desire;
what he learns is to unlearn.
He simply reminds people
of who they have always been.
He cares about nothing but the Tai.
Thus he can care for all things.

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