Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book… The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better… Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.
The Writing Life, Annie Dillard
The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.
On the Road, Jack Kerouac
There are certain days which seem to cry out to be filled – mornings that plead for action – the atmosphere vibrant with expectancy and high, heroic challenge, and this was such a morning.
From Mr Pye by Mervyn Peake
All shuffle there,
All cough in ink,
All think what other people think
The Scholars, William Butler Yeats
Give the boys the will to achieve. I’ve always liked that better than the will to win, for there can be achievement even in defeat.
John Updike – Rabbit, Run
Unfortunately, the world needs integral action. Unfortunately, it will not get it, whether we go to war or not. Still, better to light one candle than curse the darkness. So we work on ourselves and attempt to increase our own integral consciousness to some degree each day, so that in the end we leave the world just a little bit more whole than we found it…
Ken Wilber, Commentary on the Iraq War, 2003
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
Invictus, William Ernest Henley
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
W.H. Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
In the sun the butterfly wings like a church window.
All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.
“Now then, is there a self ?”
the Blessed One Venerable Gotama was silent.
“Then is there no self ?”
A second time, the Blessed One was silent.
Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.
In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous.
In governing, don’t try to control.
In work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present.
Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people’s approval
and you will be their prisoner.
Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?
A good traveler has no fixed plans
and is not intent upon arriving.
A good artist lets his intuition
lead him wherever it wants.
The Master does his job
and then stops.
He understands that the universe
is forever out of control,
and that trying to dominate events
goes against the current of the Tao.
Because he believes in himself,
he doesn’t try to convince others.
Because he is content with himself,
he doesn’t need others approval.
Because he accepts himself,
the whole world accepts him.
Knowing others is intelligence;
knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
mastering yourself is true power.
Ordinary men hate solitude.
But the Master makes use of it,
embracing his aloneness, realizing
he is one with the whole universe.
If you look to others for fulfillment,
you will never truly be fulfilled.
If your happiness depends on money,
you will never be happy with yourself.
Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.
In pursuit of knowledge,
every day something is added.
In the practice of the Tao,
every day something is dropped.
Less and less do you need to force things,
until finally you arrive at non-action.
When nothing is done,
nothing is left undone.
The Master’s power is like this.
He lets all things come and go
effortlessly, without desire.
He never expects results;
thus he is never disappointed.
He is never disappointed;
thus his spirit never grows old.
Those who know don’t talk.
Those who talk don’t know.
The mark of a moderate man
is freedom from his own ideas.
Act without doing;
work without effort.
Think of the small as large
and the few as many.
Confront the difficult
while it is still easy;
accomplish the great task
by a series of small acts.
If you want to learn how to govern,
avoid being clever or rich.
The simplest pattern is the clearest.
Content with an ordinary life,
you can show all people the way
back to their own true nature.
I have just three things to teach:
simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
When they lose their sense of awe,
people turn to religion.
When they no longer trust themselves,
they begin to depend upon authority.
True words aren’t eloquent;
eloquent words aren’t true.
Wise men don’t need to prove their point;
men who need to prove their point aren’t wise.
From the Tao Te Ching. Translated by Stephen Mitchell.
If I had to summarize the entirety
of most people’s
lives in a few words,
it would be endless resistance to what is.
As we resist, we are in constant motion
trying to adjust,
and yet we still remain unhappy about what is.
If I had to summarize the entirety of an enlightened
person’s life in a few words,
it would be complete acceptance of what is.
As we accept what is, our minds are relaxed
while the world changes rapidly around us.
When you lower yourself, the world elevates you.
When you elevate yourself, the world lowers you.
When you arrive at the peak of enlightenment,
you will understand:
Your peak is the same height as your neighbour’s.
At the peak, you see everyone’s holiness.
For spiritual practitioners,
relationships are the final test.
Even if you have awakened to your enlightened nature,
there is still further to go in your spiritual journey
if you’re not living harmoniously with others.
From The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down: How to Be Calm and Mindful in a Fast-Paced World, © 2012 by Haemin Sunim. English translation © 2017 by Chi-Young Kim and Haemin Sunim. Reprinted with permission of Penguin Books. Courtesy Yang Hongsoo/Sponsored by antiquealive.com
This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.
Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.
If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.
John O’Donohue. Excerpt from his books, To Bless the Space Between Us (US) / Benedictus (Europe)
2 thoughts on “Wise Words”
Don’t seek, don’t search, don’t ask, don’t knock, don’t demand – relax. If you relax, it comes. If you relax, it is there. If you relax, you start vibrating with it.
This puts into words precisely what I’ve experienced/lived during this lockdown. Love it.
Love your association of the quote with the current situation, totally agree. No other alternative way of responding would work in my view 🙏😊