"God speaks to us in the space between two thoughts."
Civilized people feel a loneliness and even an extreme melancholia in the jungle of the mind that may make stillness a terrifying experience, but we can pass through this barrier if we will learn to understand it. Then we would discover, as the Indians did long ago, that to stand in solitude on a mountain top at sunrise or sunset, or by a waterfall in some hidden canyon of ethereal beauty, and to absorb this majesty with utter peace and awe, in which the soul merges with creation, and self is forgotten, is to become one with a joy and happiness so tremendous that no mere earthly pleasure can compare.
The experience of solitude is necessary because only in solitude and silence is the living God revealed as the binding source of all that is. The veil is lifted, and we begin to see the wonderful possibilities of life together that surround and inhabit us. This means that, at our worst and darkest moments, we can affirm that we are God's handiwork, that God's image has marked us forever, that the most real thing about us is the Spirit who dwells in every human heart. We may be fundamentally and utterly nothing, we may be creatures marked for death, but we are peculiar beings whose very emptiness has been designed to be inhabited by nothing less than the living God. And it is in the living God that we meet one another. The life of prayer revolves around two poles: solitude and community. God is encountered in both places.
When I was in Italy, Mme. Montessori told me that besides all the activities she gives to children, she encourages them to keep silence; and after a little time, they like it so much that they prefer silence to their activity. And it interested me to see a little girl of about six years of age, when the time of silence came, went and closed the windows and door, and put away all the things that she was playing with. Then she came and sat in her little chair and closed her eyes, and she did not open them for about three or four minutes. It seemed she preferred those five minutes of silence to all the playing of the whole day.
O infinite God, you are the first and last experience of my life. Yes, really you yourself, not just a concept of you, not just the name that we ourselves have given you! You have descended upon me in water and the Spirit ... And then there was no question of my contriving or excogitating anything about you. Then my reason with its extravagant cleverness was still silent. Then, without asking me, you made yourself my poor heart's destiny. You have seized me; I have not "grasped" you. You have transformed my being right down to its very last roots and made me a sharer in your own being and life. You have given me yourself, not just a distant, fuzzy report of yourself in human words. And that is why I can never forget you, because you have become the very center of my being. Your word and your wisdom is in me, not because I comprehend you with my understanding, but because I have been recognized by you as your friend. O, grow in me, enlighten me, shine forth ever stronger in me, eternal light. May you alone enlighten me, you alone speak to me. May all that I know apart from you be nothing more than a chance traveling companion on the journey toward you.
Cultivating awareness is an essential discipline for being in the moment. As awareness deepens we become more receptive; we gradually discover the life process and move from the quantified aspects of things to their qualities. We perceive ourselves less as observers and more as integral parts of the process. Awareness leads to the sure knowledge that we are creatures among creatures and that the earth is always aware of our presence. Awareness cannot be realized without solitude and silence. Solitude enables us to become aware of the boundaries of the self, to experience aloneness as a prelude to the experience of at-one-ness. To be silent is to let go of that fear which drowns out every kind of awareness. Silence leads us into mystery. Silence means stilling self-reflexive chatter and adopting an attitude of listening. Listen to the silence of the earth -- it is deafening. Listening to the silence of earth brings us into communion with every separate being -- a blade of grass moving in the breeze, an ant walking across a leaf, the eagle hovering high overhead, water flowing slowly from a hidden spring. One becomes an ear so that all might become music.
I reach out my hand to God that He may carry me along as a feather is borne weightlessly by the wind...
Just as a whole world of beauty can be discovered in one flower, so the great grace of God can be tasted in one small moment.
EARTH teach me stillness
As the grasses are stilled with light.
EARTH teach me suffering
As old stones suffer with memory.
EARTH teach me humility
As blossoms are humble with beginning.
EARTH teach me caring
As the mother who secures her young.
EARTH teach me courage
As the tree which stands all alone.
EARTH teach me limitation
As the ant who crawls on the ground.
EARTH teach me freedom
As the eagle who soars in the sky.
EARTH teach me resignation
As the leaves which die in the fall.
EARTH teach me regeneration
As the seed which rises in spring.
EARTH teach me to forget myself
As melted snow forgets its life.
EARTH teach me to remember kindness
As dry fields weep with rain.
A long and loving look at the universe we inhabit can actually change us. We can become different persons.
Prayer with nature is a passionate listening to the beating heart of the world. It is appreciation. And it is always praise.
Let us plant dates, even though those who plant them will never eat them ... We must live by the love of what we will never see. This is the secret discipline. It is a refusal to let the creative act be dissolved away in immediate sense experience, and a stubborn commitment to the future of our grandchildren. Such disciplined love is what has given prophets, revolutionaries and saints the courage to die for the future they envisaged. They make their own bodies the seed of their highest hope.
O heart within my heart,
in you I place my trust.
Let me not feel unworthy;
let not fear rule over me.
Yes! let all who open their hearts
savor You and bless the earth!
Spirit that hears each one of us,
Hears all that is --
Listens, listens, hear us out --
Inspire us now!
Our own pulse beats in every stranger's throat,
And also there within the flowered ground beneath our feet,
And -- teach us to listen! --
We can hear it in water, in wood, and even in stone.
We are earth of this earth, and we are bone of its bone.
This is a prayer I sing, for we have forgotten this,
The earth is perishing.
Today when I receive communion, I am reminded of our dark roots within the earth. I know my energy flows in two directions: the Spirit lifts me up, yet my bond with all creation pulls me down into the depths of life. This moment of tension -- when we are suspended between the heavens and natural world -- is the heart of every liturgy.
Outer silence, the deep true silence of nature and prayer, calls forth the silence hidden within one's inner being. For to be other than silent in the stillness of the forest or the chapel seems inappropriate and irreverent. In silence, the rare times I attain true inner silence, I recognize my inner self, and I am also aware of God's presence in me as well as a loving, merciful gaze upon me. It is in the mutual gazing upon the infinite and the infinite upon me that I find peace. Oh, why then, silence, are you so hard to attain when you bring so much joy? Why do I so often avoid you? Because the silence is where God is to be found? You have such gifts to give. While our inner being is often noisy, filled with less than productive chattering of the mind, you are always waiting for us to accept you presence in us. To be still, to be silent brings its own gifts. The reward is in the stillness, in the silence, in the sitting.
Prayer gives the silence, which is the very clear song that is simple, full of devotion, full of itself, in nature, in everyone. The notes of the silence lift every bird and are perfect for every heart, one note at a time.
The one who understands my music can never know unhappiness again.
... there is music even in the beauty,
and the silent note which Cupid strikes,
far sweeter than the sound of an instrument.
For there is music wherever there is a
harmony, order, or proportion: and thus far,
we may maintain the music of the spheres.
I experienced in myself a curious phenomenon: I was listening with the heart. And if I just listened, through the heart, just listened, and no thinking was involved in it, then the heart sang with the violins, it was the trumpet call, it was the woodwinds, and I was the music.
Music ingathers all, yet takes one only
into its secret when the chimes begin.
When that great rain of sound comes down,
the lonely of spirit is elect and enters in.
One evening shines with bells; alone, apart we listen, awed,
to the antiphonal pealing of our hearts.
Music by right is for the solitaries
whom a long silence trains to the profound.
The bells are ours; we come at the first airy
rumor to drench our deserts with their sound.
Yet anyone who listens may become
hermit or anchorite under the shower
when the great chimes -- tree shakes its leaves of light.
but oh! the silence sank
Like music on my heart.
Since I am coming to that holy room,
Where, with your quire of Saints
for evermore, I shall be made you
Music; As I come, I tune the
instrument here at the door.
And what I must do then, think
There is always Music amongst the trees in the Garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it.
Silence is the highest form of music ... Music of the infinity, referred to as the music of the spheres, is often heard in deep solitude or reflected in natural sounds -- the wind, the ocean, the melody of birds. The single note of a temple gong is far more powerful than an orchestra of one hundred instruments. The clear sound it produces reverberates deep within our mind and body, conveying a sense of infinite peace and bringing us close to the melodious silence of infinity.
If only I listened to my own rhythm, and tried to live in accordance with it. Much of what I do is mere imitation, springs from a sense of duty or from pre-conceived notions of how people should behave. The only certainties about what is right and wrong are those which spring from sources deep inside oneself. And I say it humbly and gratefully and I mean every word of it right now, though I know I shall again grow rebellious and irritable. 'Oh God, I thank you for the sense of fulfillment I sometimes have, that fulfillment is after all nothing but being filled with you. I promise yet to strive my whole life long for beauty and harmony and also humility and true love, whispers of which I hear inside me during my best moments.'
After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.
I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
where I left them, asleep like cattle.
Then what is afraid of me comes
and lives a while in my sight.
What it fears in me leaves me,
and the fear of me leaves it.
It sings, and I hear its song.
Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
and the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.
We have a destination: the heart of God. Though we have come a long way from our true home, we can still return if we give ear to our spiritual instincts, our inner heritage as a spiritual being. To do this, we must listen for the heavenly music, the Voice of God, which is constant, changeless, and unerring. Have you ever gazed in awe as a flock of migrating geese cuts through the sky? Did you look up with a strange longing welling up in you, a lonely restlessness which you cannot name? If so, you have felt the call to Soul ... you have heard the Voice of God."
Let us then, labour for an inward stillness,
An inward stillness and an inward healing;
That perfect silence where the lips and heart
Are still, and we no longer entertain
Our own imperfect thoughts and vain opinions,
But God alone speaks in us, and we wait
In singleness of heart, that we may know
His will, and in the silence of our spirits,
That we may do his will, and do that only.
Do not move
in order to touch me,
for I am stillness itself.
Do not be drawn
in many directions
in order to take hold of me;
I am unity itself.
Stop the movement,
and you will surely reach me,
who long ago reached you.
A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from fear.
An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.
Loss of interest in judging self and in judging other people.
Loss of interest in conflict, and in interpreting actions of others.
Loss of ability to worry. Frequent episodes of appreciation.
Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.
Frequent attacks of smiling through the eyes of the heart.
Increasing susceptibility to love ~ and the urge to expand it.
Increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.
If you have the above symptoms, your condition of peace may be so far advanced as to not be treatable.
The act of love plunges us into God, who is given in silence. Anything else would run the risk of detracting from the gift. "Silence is the speech of God", according to St. John of the Cross. This act of love frees us from ourselves. In this love, God is revealed in a silence that strips us and makes us experience that "blessed are the poor". Silence preserves us from illusion and gives us security ... The grace of contemplation places the soul in a kind of immobility and silence, which we cannot do of ourselves. God does all this by way of love, which involves a death of the mind and a resurrection of the heart.
All persons are both artist and mystic because all are called to be in touch with the true self, the deep experience that is theirs, and to utter images from that silent space.
No escape from paradox: Wisdom manifests itself, and is yet hidden. The more it hides, the more it is manifest; and the more it is manifest, the more it is hidden. For God is known when apprehended as unknown, and is heard when we realize that we do not know the sounds of God's voice. The words uttered are words of full silence, and they are bait to draw us into silence. The truths manifested are full of hiddenness, and their function is to hide us, with themselves, in God from whom they proceed. If we hide the precepts of wisdom in our heart -- precepts of humility, meekness, charity, renunciation, faith, prayer -- they themselves will hide us in God. For the values which they give to us, are completely hidden from our eyes. They bring us to the source of a life that is unknown to the natural wisdom of the world, and yet from this source of nature itself proceeds, is nourished, and is sustained.
O Great Spirit, whose breath gives light to the world, and whose voice is heard in the soft breeze: We need Your strength and wisdom. Cause us to walk in beauty. Give us eyes ever to behold the red and purple sunset. Make us wise so that we may understand what you have taught us. Help us to learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock. Make us always ready to come to you with clean hands and steady eyes, so when life fades, like the fading sunset, our spirits may come to you without shame. Amen.
As we become sensitive to our soul's experience, we find the smallest moments, the slightest breezes, can move so much inside us in the stillness. Life's brief encounters with intimacy have more importance. With the subtle qualities we find in our inner life, the silence leads us. The pure presence always begins inside. From our soul's quiet recesses we are taken to caverns and gardens and skies above mansions of silence. Our interior life is full of the ways of the soul. Our dreams, feelings, intuition, and thoughts are just the beginnings of the vast language of our soul in the silence. In our meditations and prayers we hear the small whispers, the perfect presence speak to us, seeking our awareness and appreciation. To value our inner life is to open the doors for the galaxies of stars in the silence to be discovered. These stars turn out to be not so far away but right next to our soul and in the midst of the hearts of those around us.
To become divine is to become attuned to the whole of creation.
I weave a silence on my lips
I weave a silence into my mind
I weave a silence within my heart
I close my ears to distractions
I close my eyes to attractions
I close my heart to temptations
Calm me O Lord as you stilled the storm
Still me O Lord, keep me from harm
Let all tumult within me cease
Enfold me Lord in your peace.
In the waiting hour of twilight, my grandfather taught me about silence. We fished in a small rowboat on the lake until after the moon rose glistening in the water. He explained the rules of fishing, "Bait your own hook, sit still, and don't talk or you will disturb the fish." Each trip was the same. We left behind the cottage and, as we detached ourselves farther and farther from shore a new peace came to us. One time his voice entered the silence saying, "If you listen really hard, God will tell you stories." I listened, and he was right. My mind envisioned new and exciting "somedays" and I came close to tears in the face of the starry night's beauty.
Prayer doesn't place us in the presence of God; rather it is a time when we are especially attentive to the presence of God which is there all the time ... The voice of God is a still, small voice on the breath of a gentle breeze, but because so much of our life is spent in the noisy haste of activity, we fail to recognize the most profoundly beautiful experience in all of creation -- the presence of God that permeates everything. We need to be still, silent and listen ...
The pure sound
of the bell
summons us into
the present moment.
The timeless ring of
truth is expressed in
many different voices,
each one magnifying
The clarity of its song
resonates within us
and calls us away
from those things
which often distract us --
that which was,
that which might be --
to that which is.
The best prayer is to rest in the goodness of God knowing that that goodness can reach right down to our lowest depths of need.
Real knowledge comes from the unitive experience of God; the world's great saints and mystics have been given the key to that knowledge, and it is in turn their burden as well as their privilege to impart it to others. Once we 'set our minds on God's realm and God's justice before everything else, all the rest will come to us as well.' (Matthew 6:33) We begin to grasp the truth, that contemplative prayer -- that deep, inner loving look at God in silence -- is the way of the path, not acquisitive knowledge. And as we proceed, such amazing understanding of the fabric of the universe will be declared to us that we will scarcely be able to contain ourselves for joy that the creation is as it is. Once we are ready, God does not withhold anything from our grasp. And the measure of our readiness to receive real knowledge is our capacity to flow out in love to our neighbor.
Be bent, and you will remain straight.
Be vacant, and you will remain full.
Be worn, and you will remain new.
The stilling of the intellect in the presence of the Divine leads to "the abstract God", "the God of awareness", or "the God of unknowing", which are all words to express the inexpressible. This silence of the mind is the supreme adoration before God; and the finding of Divine Love in the constant personal awareness of the world created around us and within us is the anonymous prayer which in the secret liturgy of the universe unites us to the source of all being with every breath we take and every word we utter in our daily surrender to life.
I find that a life of little whispered words of adoration, of praise, of prayer, of worship can be breathed all through the day. One can have a very busy day, outwardly speaking, and yet be steadily in the holy Presence ... It is a life unspeakable and full of glory, an inner world of splendor within which we may live.
The Heart of Understanding gives us solid ground for making peace with ourselves, for transcending the fear of birth and death, the duality of this and that. In the light of emptiness, everything is everything else, we inter-are, everyone is responsible for everything that happens in life. When you produce peace and happiness in yourself, you begin to realize peace for the whole world. With the smile that you produce in yourself, with the conscious breathing you establish within yourself, you begin to work for peace in the world. To smile is not to smile only for yourself; the world will change because of your smile. When you sit in the silence, if you enjoy even one moment of sitting, if you establish serenity and happiness inside yourself, you provide the world with a solid base of peace. If you do not give yourself peace, how can you share it with others? If you do not begin your peace work with yourself, where will you go to begin it? To sit, to smile, to look at things and really see them, these are the basis of peace work, love and unity.
I plant the Tree of the Great peace. I name the tree the Tree of the Great Long Leaves. If anyone of any nation shall show a desire to obey the laws of the Great Peace, they shall trace the roots to their source, and they shall be welcomed to take shelter beneath the Tree of the Long Leaves. When more people come, the branches of the tree simply grow longer. An eagle lives at the top of the tree and warns the people whenever the peace is threatened.
The Beloved's home is our hearts, as we discover in the Silence.
Bless the Beloved, O you angels,
You faith-filled ones who hear the Word, following the Voice of Love!
Bless the Beloved, all you people,
Those who abandon themselves into Love's hands!
Bless the Beloved, bless all of Creation!
Bless the Beloved, O my soul!
Dear Companion of my day, You are the Holy Mystery I surrender to when I close my eyes. I give You myself, my flaws, the mistakes, the petty self-congratulations. I give You my dear ones: my fondest hopes for them, my worries, and my dark thoughts regarding them. Take my well-constructed separation from me. Hold me in Your truth.
This day is already past. I surrender it. When I think about tomorrow, I surrender it too. Keep me this night. With You and in You I can trust not knowing anything. I can trust incompleteness as a way. Dark with the darkness, silent with the silence, help me dare to be that empty one -- futureless, desireless -- who breathes Your name even in sleep.
Sweet song of silence, forever singing in my heart!
Words cannot express, the tongue cannot tell;
Only the heart knows the songs which were never sung,
The music which was never written.
I have heard that great harmony and feast that great presence,
I have listened to the Silence; and in the deep
Places of life, I have stood naked and
Receptive to Your songs and they have entered my soul.
I am lost in the mighty depths of Your inner calm and peace.
I walk in stillness. Where my rest is set
Is Heaven. And the silence of the stars
Sings in a soundless circle. For the song
Of Heaven is past hearing, and ascends
Beyond the tiny range the ear can catch.
And soars into a spaceless magnitude
Where sound and silence meet in unity,
Holy am I, who bring your Name
With me and who abide in You, although
I seem to walk alone. Look carefully,
And you may glimpse the One who stands
Beside me. And I lean on You in sure
Unswerving confidence. It was not thus
Before, for I was bitterly afraid
To take the Help of Heaven for my own.
Yet Heaven never failed, and only I
Stayed comfortless, while all of Heaven's gifts
Poured out before me. Now the arms of love
Are all I have all my treasure is.
Now I have ceased to question. Now I come
From chaos to the stillness of my home.
Teilhard de Chardin practiced the art of self-forgetfulness; the self being forgotten in a sympathetic union with all people and with every man and woman individually. The deep roots of his simultaneous love of God and the world is seen most clearly in THE DIVINE MILIEU:
Throughout my whole life, during every moment I have lived, the world has gradually been taking on light and fire for me, until it has come to envelop me in one mass of luminosity, glowing from within ... The purple flush of matter fading imperceptibly into the gold of spirit, to be lost finally in the incandescence of a personal universe ... This is what I have learned from my contact with the earth -- the diaphany of the divine at the heart of a glowing universe, the divine radiating from the depths of matter aflame ... To overcome every obstacle, to unite our beings without loss of individual personality, there is a single force which nothing can replace and nothing destroy, a force which urges us forwards and draws us upwards: this is the force of love.
In the silence of the cloister garden a human being is more than human, taking on the subtle wings of light. Nature is more than nature, flowing with the essence of life. People and plants take on the quality of illumination, as they really are. Inside the sweet harmony of the cloister garden live all beings, those who have lived before and all beings unborn. Inside the holy stillness is the collective being: the wisdom, joy and love freed and saved from the hearts of all. And all this is just a small part of the immense being of God in the cloister garden. Every prayer, every meditation that participates in the cloister garden participates in all such gardens through history and the desire for a life that is wholly sacred and blessed. Each morning in the cloister garden is a new day begun in the bright light of the silence. And each evening among the still flowers is to end another day in the arms of silence.
One of the greatest gifts we can give one another is rapt attention to one another's existence.
There is a channel between voice and presence,
A way where information flows.
In disciplined silence, the channel opens;
With wandering talk, it closes.
I have reached the inner vision
And through your Spirit in me
I have heard your wondrous secret.
Through your mystic insight
You have caused a spring of knowledge
To well up within me,
A fountain of power
Pouring forth living waters,
A flood of love
And of all-embracing wisdom
Like the splendor of eternal Light.
Prayer is based on attention to the presence of the sacred in life, and to the thoughts that express our longing for relationship with that presence. And the disciplines of inner guidance are based on attention to the wisdom of the "Still, small voice within." Attention may seem at first like a very ordinary thing. But it is the cornerstone of the spiritual life. In fact, we could say that paying attention is the essence of true spirituality. When we pay attention, whatever we are doing is transformed and becomes a part of our spiritual path.
Who are You, sweet Light, who inundate me and enlighten me and enlighten the night of my heart? You guide me just like a mother's hand; but if You leave me, I cannot advance a single step. You are space that surrounds my being and in which it is concealed. If you abandon me, I fall into the abyss of nothingness, from where You called me into being. You are nearer to me than myself, more intimate than my inmost being. And yet, no one touches You or understands You and You break the bonds of every name: Holy Spirit - Eternal Love!
Listen, if you can stand to.
Union with the Friend means not being who you've been,
Being instead silence: A place: A view
Where language is inside seeing.
“Would you teach me silence?" I asked.
"Ah!" He seemed to be pleased. "Is it the Great Silence you want?"
"Yes, the Great Silence."
"Well, where do you think it's to be found?" he asked.
"Deep within me, I suppose. If only I could go deep within, I'm sure I'd escape the noise at last. But it's hard. Will you help me?" I knew he would. I could feel his concern, and his spirit was so silent.
"Well, I've been there," he answered. "I spent years going in. I did taste the silence there. But one day, Jesus came -- maybe it was my imagination -- and said to me simply, 'Come, follow me.' I went out, and I've never gone back."
I was stunned. "But the silence ..."
"I've found the Great Silence, and I've come to see that the noise was all inside.
If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point quite gently -- and even if you do nothing during the whole of your prayer but bring your heart back, though it went away every time you brought it back, your time would be very well employed.
Sometimes little forgotten souls may need to pour out their hearts from sheer empty loneliness. Blessed is the one who is called to listen to their tales with an understanding heart, for love and light. Often just the call to sit quietly and listen may be the power of bestowing the most divine benediction of all. The gift of listening with an understanding heart is a divine gift to be developed by all. For, it is the listening heart that is prepared for the full outpouring of the gift of light. It is the listening heart alone that can hear the voice of God.
... we overlook so many joys, so many hidden treasures, when we hurry from place to place, person to person, experience to experience, with little attention anywhere. All that matters passes before us now, at this moment. It has been said the greatest gift we can give one another is rapt attention; additionally, living life fully attentive to the breezes, the colors, the sorrows and joys as well, is the most prayerful response any of us can make in this life.
May I become hollow like the reed, so You may play your melody through me.
For I long to be attuned to the great Song of the Cosmos,
to know the song of inner praise!
O, that I might hear the divine melody within my soul
and give birth to a dancing star!
Carl Hammerschlag relates a healing interaction he had with a very ill old Pueblo priest and clan chief, whom he was treating in the hospital:
Suddenly, there was this beautiful smile, and he asked me, "Where did you learn to heal?"
Although I assumed my academic credentials would mean little to the old man, I responded almost by rote, rattling off my medical education, internship and certification.
Again the beatific smile and another question: "Do you know how to dance?"
... I answered that, sure, I liked to dance; and I shuffled a little at his bedside. Santiago chuckled, got out of bed, and short of breath, began to show me his dance.
"You must be able to dance if you are to heal people," he said.
"And will you teach me your steps?" I asked, indulging the aging priest.
Santiago nodded. "Yes, I can teach you my steps, but you will have to hear your own music.”
Your Light alone -- like mists o'er mountains driven,
Or music by the night-wind sent
Through strings of some still instrument,
Or moonlight on a midnight stream,
Gives grace and truth to life's unquiet dream.
The former musician, Hazrat Inayat Khan gave up the practise of music "to tune souls instead of instruments, to harmonize people instead of notes ... Music, the word we use in our everyday language, is nothing less than the picture of our Beloved ... It is because music is the picture of our Beloved that we love music."
I sing of hemlocks whispering mysteries,
Of meadows green with promise,
Of lakes with secrets,
Of mountain peaks in touch with eternity,
Of solitude filled with murmurings we can never quite hear,
Of presences that hover just beyond the edge of perception,
Of meanings etched in snow, transcribed with wings;
I sing the truth
Of hidden things.
It is not difficult to understand why music often touches us so deeply. Music is the key to the power within -- a bridge of sorts -- and there is an infinite variety of music suitable to individual tastes and preferences to lead in this inward search. Composers are often aware of the power of the music that comes from within them and have from time to time spoken of it ... Brahms, being deeply aware of the source of his creative gift, stated that his creative power was released in the moment of his realization of his oneness with the Creator.
Among all the different arts, the art of music has been especially considered divine, because it is the exact miniature of the law working through the whole universe.
Can you hear the music?
Can you hear the sound
Of the life that floats by on the wind
Or comes up through the ground?
Its strange enchanting rhythm
Will bring your soul release.
You will hear it and then suddenly
All you've ever known is peace.
Oh, listen to the symphony;
Every note is a new world.
Listen to the music of your destiny
As it unfolds.
God takes such delight in the human person that Divinity sings this song to our soul:
O lovely rose on the thorn!
O hovering bee on the honey!
O pure dove in your being!
O glorious sun in your setting!
O full moon in your course!
From you, I your God will never turn away.
GRATITUDE: the Great-Attitude
a glorious song of thankfulness
What do I have to be thankful for?
I asked myself today.
So I decided to count my joys
As I wandered along my way;
The warmth of a home, the love of friend,
The beautiful sound of the rain;
The still of the night, the touch of a child,
A day that is free from pain.
The light of the sun, the cool of a breeze,
The sound of a waterfall;
But the love of God and the peace it brings
Is the greatest blessing of all!
and Sustainer of Life,
we the living praise You;
our hearts and our flesh
sing for joy
as we join with all creation
in a canticle of Thanksgiving
for the blessings
of the universe,
the habitat of all that lives.
Forgive our wanton
and wasteful use
of those good and precious resources
entrusted to our care.
Send forth Your Spirit,
renew the earth
as You renew its caretakers,
and all of creation
Come, Creator Spirit!
Come, Soul of the Universe!
Come, Source of all that Lives!
Come, live in us! Amen!
Day after day, O God of my life, shall I stand before You face to face? With folded hands, O God of all worlds, shall I stand before You face to face? Under your great sky in solitude and silence, with humble heart shall I stand before You face to face? In this laborious world of yours, tumultuous with toil and struggle, among hurrying crowds, shall I stand before You face to face? And when my work shall be done in this world, O God of All, alone and speechless shall I stand before You face to face?
Expressing gratitude for those who have gone before us is important for a sense of connection and continuity, yet it is from those who walk beside us that we can gain the strength and courage to remain true to one purpose. And what many today are discovering as they "dig a new-way path" is not a teacher or guru or guide, but a "resonator", a friend or companion so true to their own reality that they inspire others to be faithful to theirs. Somehow the resonator calls us to our true selves, reminding us and reflecting to us our deepest possibility, asking the difficult questions and encouraging us to take action.
I am part of a network of events that have occurred in the lives of many people, some of whom are unknown to me. I know that their deaths must have contributed to my life, and that without them I would not be who I am. To be aware of this is to carry their love within my heart, and to live in a spirit of gratitude.
Be filled with the Spirit of the Beatitudes: joy, simplicity, mercy. Joy begins within. Perfect joy lies in the utter simplicity of peaceful love. In order to shine out, such joy requires no less than your whole being. Perfect joy is self-giving. Whoever knows it seeks neither gratitude nor kindness. It is sheer wonder renewed by the sight of the generosity of the Giver of all gifts -- material and spiritual. It is thankfulness. It is thanksgiving. Simplicity lies in the free joy of those who keep their heart and mind fixed on Divine Light and Love. Those who live in mercy are neither oversensitive nor constantly disappointed. They give themselves simply, forgetting themselves -- joyfully with all their heart; freely, not looking for anything in return.
O come, let us sing to the Most High, Creator of the Cosmos;
let us make a joyful song to the beloved!
Let us come to the Radiant One with thanksgiving,
with gratitude let us offer our psalms of praise!
For the Beloved is Infinite, the Breathing life of all.
The law of "thanksgiving" and gratitude is the divine law of multiplication. It is the law of bringing-forth, of creation, of increase. As the heavenly song of the universe pours into our beings in its complete fullness, we come to realize the purpose and the power of such infinite harmony. It is a song of love and devotion, of praise and exaltation, of gratitude and thanks that can clothe one in complete glory. It is the celestial symphony of the universe. It is the "new song" that is not learned in words, but which is felt and released from the very center of the soul. It is divine, perfected love, developed from within by gratitude.
Those who live with integrity are like
a garden in full bloom,
whose blossoms beautify the earth.
They are planted in the dwelling place
their produce nourishes those
who pass by.
All through their lives they produce
overflowing as a cornucopia of
the finest fruits,
Magnifying the Loving and Gracious Creator,
living as sons and daughters
of the Most High.
Although there are rocks and tree roots,
Rippling along, just rippling along,
The water runs.
give us hearts to understand;
never to take from creation's beauty
more than we give, never to destroy wantonly
for the furtherance of greed;
never to deny to give our hands for the
building of earth's beauty;
never to take from her what we cannot use.
Give us hearts to understand that to
destroy earth's music is to create confusion;
that to wreck her appearance is to blind us
to beauty; that to callously pollute
her fragrance is to make a house of stench;
that as we care for her, she will care for us!
I watch a hawk soar through the morning sky and something falls into place within me. It is as if I travel through a wood long unvisited and recognize familiar trees grown taller with the passing time. I come upon a thought, an act, a place with the vague sense of having thought that, done that, been there before. Or I come to a fork in the road and I know by some unexplainable sense which is right for me. I walk and uncover or discover anew what I have always known. Living intimately with nature opens doors in my spirit; the mystery becomes known, darkness becomes light.
It is in deep silence that we enter into contact with the Indwelling Presence, with the radiance, the energy, the illumination and the fullness of Resurrection. In silence we discover our hunger and taste for the Word of God. our silence before the mystery of our own creation enables us to experience something of God drawing us ever closer. Silence in awe of God's creating love creates in us an ever deepening capacity for the word of God. The silence becomes a Presence.
Grounded in water and earth, we, like trees are connected to our mother. With roots deep in the earth, we are called to rest in her shelter where we don't have to say or do anything, just BE. Here we can know the nurturance and comfort of a God who surrounds un in warmth and wisdom in this sheltering womb, a constant Presence in our darkness and our light.
These are only hints and guesses,
Hints followed by guesses;
And the rest is prayer, observance, discipline,
Thought and action.
The hint half guessed, the gift half understood,
If our ordinary, self-centered viewpoint is dominant, rocks and tree roots are undesirable. But if we change our point of view, then the very fact that there are rocks and tree roots makes the valley stream more beautiful and the sight of waves breaking upon them beyond description. When we perceive joy, anger, happiness and sorrow as enriching our lives, just as rocks and tree roots and water spray embellish nature, then we are able to accept whatever happens and live like flowing water, without clinging to anything.
Though we travel the world over
To find the beautiful
We must carry it with us
Or we will find it not.
The world is not a machine, but an exquisite sanctuary. You need to be one with the world. You need to feel that you are not an accident in this world. You need to feel that the world is not an accident either. You need to celebrate your own uniqueness in a world that is sacred. The sacredness of the world, your dignity and your sovereignty, are assured by the assumption that the world is a sanctuary. To act in a world as if it were a sanctuary is to make it reverential and sacred; and is to make yourself elevated and meaningful. What the universe becomes depends on you. Treat it like it becomes a divine place. Treat it indifferently and ruthlessly and it becomes an indifferent and ruthless place. Treat it with love and care and it becomes a loving and caring place.
Behold, my friends, the spring has come!
The earth has received the embraces of the sun,
And we shall soon see the results of that love!
Every seed is awakened and so has all animal life.
It is through this mysterious power that we, too,
have our being.
And we, therefore, yield to our neighbors,
even our animal neighbors,
The same right as ourselves to inhabit this land.
Music is more than a concord of sweet sounds, it is something from a higher world which we have power to invoke.
Not without design does God write the music of our lives.
The creative Wisdom of all things has established marvelous and ineffable harmonies by which all things come together in a concord or friendship or peace or love or however else the union of all things is to be designated.
The flute of interior time is played
whether we hear it or not,
What we mean by "love"
is its sound coming in.
When love hits the farthest edge of
it reaches a wisdom.
And the fragrance of that knowledge!
It penetrates our thick bodies,
it goes through walls-
its network of notes has a structure
as if a million suns were arranged inside.
This tune has truth in it.
Where else have you heard a sound like
The parallelism of the psalms is a key to praying them. Just as the rhythm of music invites us to join in a dance, the rhythm of the psalms invites us to join in a dance, the rhythm of the psalms invites us to step into them with our whole self ... Repetition in prayer is a way of holding God in remembrance. The images of such prayer lodge deep within us and surface at other periods of our life. When we move quickly from one idea to another, it is difficult to let any one thought sink in and deepen within us. By quietly reiterating a theme or image, a psalm calms our restless hearts and gently leads us into a prayerful attitude.
Silent and still
my father stands
before our summer shelter
He is thinking a prayer
to the Holy Ones,
to keep our feet
on the trail of beauty.
Filling the silence
of my father's prayer
I hear the bluebird's song.
Peter Matthiessen in "Earth and Spirit" speaks of reclaiming our harmony with the universe:
As a first step we might consider this Great Mystery that is all about us ... It is the music of the stars, the color of the winds, the dead stillness between tides ... It is no less and no more strange than our life itself.
The people sing individually, in groups and often in harmony. I realized some of the songs were as old as time. These people repeat chants created here in the desert before the invention of the calendar. But I also experienced new compositions, music being composed just because I was there. I was told, "Just as a musician seeks musical expression, so the music in the Universe seeks to be expressed." ... A musician carries the music within.
In a cave, all outer sounds are smothered by rock and earth, but this makes the sounds of one's own heartbeat and breath audible. In the same way, contemplative stillness turns us away from everyday clamor but allows us to hear the subtle in our own lives. When listening not with the ear but with the spirit, one can perceive the subtle sound. By entering into that sound, we enter into supreme purity. That is why so many religious traditions pray, sing, or chant as a prelude to silence. They understand that the repetition and absorption of sound leads to sacredness itself. The deepest sound is silence. This may seem paradoxical only if we regard silence as an absence of life and its opposites. It is both sound and soundlessness, and it is in this confluence that the power of meditation emerges.
If we surrender who and what we think we are, we may come to such a perfect pitch of attunement that each note struck within us is an everlasting example of the first note, the first sound, from which all music extends ... J.S. Bach once said, "When the right notes are struck at the right time, the instrument plays itself." We are the instruments of God. We must never forget this if we are to truly be of service ... We are asked to be open, to be aware, to be in love with the Beloved with a passion that defies all reason. The expression of love that shatters the discursive mind is the music of life, if we will only listen, if we will only be receptive and awake.
God takes such delight in the human person that
Divinity sings this song to our soul:
O lovely rose on the thorn!
O hovering bee in the honey!
O pure dove in your being!
O glorious sun in your setting!
O full moon in your course!
I you God
All we have
All we are
From All That Is,
One without wonder
Will not see It
While the eyes of the grateful
Will reflect It.
GRATITUDE is a memory of the heart. Whatever goodness the heart receives, the heart never forgets.
As we slow down we come to realize that we are persons called in time and space TO BE freely and fully human and that therein is our sanctity. We see that an individual life is a GIFT entrusted to us freely and generously by God. When I struggle to live a life of affirmation, I must ultimately let go of trying to control all the variables of existence and surrender in faith to the freeing power of the providential plan. This only happens when I emphasize in my day-to-day life the time and place TO BE alone, TO BE with friends, TO BE with other workers and TO BE with God.
Benediction is a formative experience, whether we bless others or receive a blessing from them. It comes in the form of an inner or outer word or gesture arising from a loving heart. In blessing we express gratitude to God for the divine inherent in other persons. We ask God in effect to bring this form to its fullness.
Appreciation is a natural gift. It is meant to lead us to God ... Appreciation naturally appears the moment our self-concern is relinquished. It cannot be possessed and it cannot be earned; it simply IS, a free gift, available everywhere. Life is known then more as art than task. The greatest task becomes our work to help others realize such wonder. The wonder is so great that we are in danger of overfascination. We easily become focused on the gifts as an end in themselves; they do not always lead us to the Giver. We subtly become attached to the felt beauty and miss not only the initial invitation to thanksgiving, but the yet deeper invitation: to release ourselves to God as we are enabled and let rise that full quality of awareness that is beyond felt beauty, beyond self-reflective appreciation.
The story of a saint is always a love story. It is a story of a God who loves, and of the beloved who learns how to reciprocate and share that "harsh and dreadful love". It is a story that includes misunderstanding, deception, betrayal, concealment, reversal, and revelation of character. It is, if the saints are to be trusted, our story. But to be a saint is not to be a solitary lover. It is to enter into deeper community with everyone and everything that exists.
You will hardly believe your ear, since,
as You know, I like to divide my time equally
between feeling sorry for myself,
and asking You to make things better for me.
But just this once, I'd like to thank You for
all those things, beginning with the gift
of life itself, You have showered on me for
no earthly reason that I can see,
except that inexplicably in the face of
selfishness and ingratitude of monumental
proportions and endurance,
You love me.
GRATITUDE is the most fruitful way of deepening your consciousness that you are not an "accident", but a divine choice. It is important to realize how often we have had chances to be grateful and have not used them. When someone is kind to us, when an event turns out well, when a problem is solved, a relationship restored, a wound healed, these are very concrete reasons to offer thanks... When we keep claiming the light, we will find ourselves becoming more and more radiant. What fascinates me so much is that every time we decide to be grateful, it will be easier to see new things to be grateful for. Gratitude begets gratitude, just as love begets love.
Time after I came to your gate with raised hands asking for more yet more. You gave and gave, now in slow measure, now in sudden excess. I took some, and some things I let drop; some lay heavy on my hands; some I made into playthings and broke them when tired; till the wrecks and hoard of gifts grew immense, hiding You, and the ceaseless expectations wore my heart out.
Take, O take, has now become my cry. Shatter all from the beggar's bowl. Put out this lamp of the importunate watcher; hold my hands, raise me from the still-gathering heap of your gifts into the bare infinity of your uncrowded presence.
To pray is to regain a sense of the Mystery that animates all beings. The Divine margin in all attainments. Prayer is our humble answer to the inconceivable surprise of living. It is all we can offer in return for the Mystery by which we live. Who is worthy to be present to the constant unfolding of time amidst the meditation of mountains, the humility of flowers, wiser than all alphabets ... clouds that die constantly for the sake of God's glory. We are hating, hunting, hurting. Suddenly we feel ashamed of all our clashes and complaint in the face of the tacit glory in nature. It is so embarrassing to live. How strange we are in the world and how presumptuous our doings. Only one response can maintain us: GRATEFULNESS for witnessing the wonder; for the gift to our unearned right to live ... to adore ... to fulfill. It is GRATEFULNESS which makes the soul great.
All of nature is in us, all of us is in nature,
This is as it should be.
The wisdom of the peoples of elder cultures can make an important contribution to the post-modern world, one that we must begin to accept as the crisis of self, society and the environment deepens. This wisdom cannot be told, but it is to be found by each of us in the direct experience of silence, stillness, solitude, simplicity, ceremony and vision.
Spirituality is that quality of being that expresses the bonding of all living and non-living things into an evolutionary unity.
George Leonard in THE SILENT PULSE shares the sense of unity and harmony with the planet that a young man of seventeen experienced:
"Even though physically separate, I knew a tree, grains of sand, sea, flying birds. Everything was God, holy; as God is total, so the driftwood branch was holy. This must be the stuff religion is made of. Never before or after have I felt so alive."
There are three walls that divide us from one another and from the realization of Unity for which we yearn... These are the walls of envy, resentment and pride... Everything is reaching towards the light, and just as the trees and the beautiful flowers seek out the light, so does Beauty herself seek out the light within us. As long as Beauty is covered by these walls, She cannot be one with the Light who created Her in the first place... When you can watch and observe and be honest about the sense of separation that we all feel, you will come closer to the walls. And then, gently, you can reach out to each stone and brick that needs to be removed ... stones and bricks that can be washed and transformed in love.
A human being is part of a whole, called by us the "Universe", a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest -- a kind of optical delusion of our consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
Spirit that hears each one of us,
hears all that is --
Listens, listens, hears us out --
inspire us now!
Our own pulse beats in every
And also within the flowered ground
beneath our feet.
We can hear it in water, in wood, and
even in stone.
We are earth of this earth, and
we are bone of this bone.
This is a prayer I sing, for we
have forgotten this and so
the earth is perishing.
We can only start to grow in being when we take time to be still, even if it is only a few minutes each day, and open ourselves to God, like a flower opening its pedals to the sun, and receiving the strengthening rays of light. With continual practice, we can actually know that the spirit of Divine Love -- the Love of the omniscient creator of the entire universe -- is in us. ... Being still and experiencing the presence of God is the most important thing we can possibly do; for in this state of passivity we receive directive and strength for the day's action.
What a thing it is to sit absolutely alone, in the forest, at night, cherished by this wonderful, intelligible, perfectly innocent speech, the most comforting speech in the world, the talk that rain makes by itself all over the ridges, and the talk of the watercourses everywhere in the hollows! Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it. It will talk as long as it wants, this rain. As long as it talks, I am going to listen.
Many of us need the wilderness as a place to listen to the quiet, to feel at home with ancient rhythms that are absent in city life, to know the pulse of a river, the riffle of the wind, the rataplan of rain on the slickrock.
My first remembered experience of the numinous occurred when I was barely three... The sun was shining, and as I walked along the dusty lane I became acutely aware of the things around me. I noticed a group of dandelions on my left at the base of a stone wall. Most of them were in full bloom, their golden heads irradiated by the sun, and suddenly I was overcome by an extraordinary feeling of wonder and joy. It was as if I was part of the flowers, and stones and dusty earth. I could feel the dandelions pulsating in the sunlight, and a timeless unity with all life.
God is the friend of silence. See how nature -- trees, flowers, grass -- grow in silence; see the stars, the moon, the sun, how they move in silence... The more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life. We need silence to be able to touch souls. The essential thing is not what we say, but what God says to us and through us. All our words will be useless unless they come from within.
Within this life we live and have our being; this is the power, the wisdom and the love in which we are encompassed. And yet bodily we remain in shadow because we are clothed in the darkness of the earth. But no one need ever remain a prisoner; it only requires the will to aspire and so to know the wisdom of the divine -- and the prisoner is free! And so we ascend in spirit, and being raised, we then step forth into a life heavenly in its beauty and are encompassed by a heavenly concourse... We may become conscious of music -- delicate, gentle, sweet music beyond all description -- which may swell in grand crescendo to embrace the great universal music of all creation. And we know that we are part of this grand orchestra.
My musical productions came into existence through understanding and pain. Those which pain has brought forth seem to please the world most ... (out of pain comes new birth ... new life).
Dr. Eaglefield Hull describes Scriabin's attitude to music: His first symphony is a "Hymn to Art" and joins hands with Beethoven's Ninth. His third, the "Divine Poem", expresses the spirit's liberation from its earthly trammels and the consequent free expression of purified personality; while his "Poem of Ecstasy" voices the highest of all joys -- that of creative work. He held that in the artists' incessant creative activity, the constant progression towards the ideal, the spirit alone truly lives.
Late that afternoon I listened to Thomas Tallis's SPEM IN ALIUM, a motet written in the 16th century for forty voice, forty separate parts... I was sitting in my chair looking at Ma's photograph as I listened. At once, as the music began, the photograph started to emit great waves of Light. The Light possessed my mind and body, and I heard the music not without me but within my heart.
Her voice: In my stillness all the voices of the world rise in ecstasy. In my silence all the voices of the world are reconciled.
Each voice in the sublime motet sang in perfectly lucid ecstatic harmony with every other voice, forming endlessly changing transforming masses of illumined ripe sound.
In the new creation souls will sing together like this.
I heard spiral after spiral of ascending glorious sound rise calmly, with a passion at once detached and supremely intense, from its bed of Silence, rise, commingle in bliss, and finally culminate in the vast prolonged cry of Light on Light at the end of the work, a cry that does not end but seems to reverberate throughout the cosmos forever.
Music is always in the air, particularly at night, for nature (being born of it) is necessarily more sensitive at night to the beautiful.
When I sing I feel ecstatic, as if in communion with God. Maybe, when I sing, that's when I feel and experience it most in my life -- that lack of separation from God... I think that a song, if you allow it into your heart, can remind you that you are whole, that you are not just a fragment, but everything. If people sing, if they let themselves really sing, they can feel that inside... No matter who you are, if you sing from deep within you, transformation happens. A song, whether you are singing or listening, can let your heart open to the spiritual world.
I woke up from a dream several years ago and wrote the words, "God is a singing sound in the heart of silence." ... Silence is not an absence. It is a presence. Listen to the bird. Its sound comes from and returns to silence. Trees are surrounded by silence. They grow from silence. All things in nature are children of silence... At the core of my being there is an open road, and three words to guide me, TRUSTING/BREATHING/ATTENDING. Trusting that the universe is a friendly place. Breathing from the deepest part of myself. Attending to the process of becoming. These three guiding words of wisdom call me to travel the open road. To attend, breathe and trust in the heart of silence. To listen for the singing sound of God.
A job is what we do for money;
Work is what we do for love.
A story of three brick masons illustrates the great difference our attitude toward our work makes:
The first person, when asked what he was building, replied gruffly, without even looking up, "I'm laying bricks."
The second person answered, "I'm building a wall."
But the third person said enthusiastically and with obvious pride and wonder, "I'm building a cathedral."
TO WORK IS TO PRAY
The work you do out of love without a thought of reward is the work of God.
Contemplation is not something that is done alongside or before and after our everyday action. It's the doing itself that is contemplation because you yourself are so united with God that you are simply living the divine life; you are God living and doing you in the world. You are God's manifestation ... a movement of consciousness from God, with God, in God, as God, out in the world, a movement in which the divine conscious and my conscious, flowing together, stream out in love and in creative, healing, beautifying energy to create the world and to make it ever better.
Contemplation is an excellent practice for integrating our meditations into everyday life... Simply reading one line of something inspirational each morning can provide excellent material for contemplation if we design a practice that helps to encourage contemplative moments throughout the day... For people in a busy, active environment, it is perhaps the most accessible spiritual practice. A few moments of contemplation can be accomplished even in the middle of a business meeting. This experience is not like a passing daydream, but affects the quality of life, deepening our spiritual connections, drawing us into reflection and constant realization of the soul's quest to be at one with its divine source at all times and in all places.
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.
The master never reaches for the great
thus she achieves greatness.
When she runs into a difficulty,
she stops and gives herself to it.
She doesn't cling to her own comfort;
thus problems are no problem for her.
Nicholas of Cusa described human creativity as a participation in the act of God creating the cosmos. God creates the cosmos, we create the microcosmos, the "human world". As we do our daily work, make our homes and marriages, raise our children, and fabricate a culture, we are all being creative... The ultimate work is an engagement with soul, responding to the demands of fate and tending the details of life as it presents itself. We may get to a point where our external labors and the OPUS of the soul are one and the same, inseparable. Then the satisfactions of our work will be deep and long lasting, undone neither by failures nor by flashes of success.
Responsible work is an embodiment of love, and love is the only discipline that will serve in shaping the personality, the only discipline that makes the mind whole and constant for a lifetime of effort. There hovers about a true vocation that paradox of all significant self-knowledge -- our capacity to find ourselves by losing ourselves. We lose ourselves in our love of the task before us and, in that moment, we learn an identity that lives both within and beyond us.
To create from joy, to create from wonder, demands a continual discipline, a great compassion. It demands a severity of mind towards all vanity and posturing of the ego that loves its suffering, and clings to its despairs and depressions and fears; it demands a continual objectivity of spirit, a continual looking out at, and beyond, the world created by the senses, towards a spiritual reality, whose lineaments only emerge slowly, after years of experience and meditation. You do not need to stop working, but you need to strive for a new relationship with your work... With time and sincerity you will discover a way to work that does not harm you spiritually, does not tempt you to vanity, that is the deepest expression of your spirituality.
How I like things to be done quietly and without fuss... Let truth be done in silence "till it is forced to speak," and then should it only whisper, all those whom it may concern will hear.
A vision without a task is but a dream,
A task without a vision is drudgery,
And a vision and a task is the hope of the world.
Another will is greater, wiser and more intelligent than my own. So I wait. Waiting means that there is Another whom I trust and from whom I receive. My will, important and essential as it is, finds a Will that is more important, more essential. .. In prayer we are aware that God is in action and that when the circumstances are ready, when others are in the right place and when my heart is prepared, I will be called into action. Waiting in prayer is a disciplined refusal to act before God acts. Waiting is our participation in the process that results in the "time fulfilled".
It is not right to acquiesce in the notion that our lives are divided into the time we spend on our work and the time we spend in serving God. We must be able to serve the Divine Plan, and the work itself must be accepted and respected as the medium of divine creation... Every maker and worker is called to serve God in their profession or trade -- not outside it.
In sharing, the meaning of our lives
is given back to God:
The One who gives
The One who receives
The One who is.
When you are filled with wonder at God's beauty, not only in nature, but in the amazing structure of your own body and mind, you are filled with gratitude. Thankfulness becomes an integral part of your daily living -- for the restoring benefit of sleep; for the dawning of yet another day; for the guidance you have received, and the opportunities of serving others, and for the strength to do this. Even if you are limited in your environment and your physical ability, you can still marvel. For you can enter your inner world, with its thoughts and memories, and reach out in prayer just where you are... To live without wonder is to wonder what living is all about.
It is often difficult for us to see how, or sometimes even to believe that, God weaves the threads of difficulty, serendipity, challenge, and blessing together in our lives. That is why it is important at times to stop and look with fresh eyes and open hearts at what our Creator has been weaving around, within, and through us. From this new perspective, this vantage point of grace, we begin to discern God's artistry, the extraordinary ways in which unruly, unwanted, and unexpected threads are being woven deftly into a strong, resilient, and beautiful fabric. We see not only how the various threads of our individual lives are woven together, but also how they are woven into the lives of others.
O Might Counselor, speak to us
within our hearts;
let your voice be heard.
And as we listen and heed your Word,
joy will be our song of thanks.
As You lead us into the Silence,
we become friends with solitude.
With trust in You, our lives become simple,
assurance and peace leaving
no room for fear.
All that we have is gift from You,
O Gracious Creator,
all that we are is Yours as well.
May we come to see that all
we give to others,
we give to ourselves and You.
The Great Source is always reaching out for people who are moved by the spirit of love rather than fear. And blessed are those who are willing to hear the teachings of peace and pass their inspirations along to the world with courage and confidence. Would that more of us trusted the inner voice of healing and honored its gifts in action with gratitude.
I understood the importance of thanking God for the things we receive. Gratitude is an eternal virtue. In humility we ask, and in gratitude we receive. The more we give thanks for the blessings we receive, the more open we become for further blessings. God's desire to bless is full to overflowing. If we will open our hearts and minds the receive blessings, we too will be filled to overflowing ... We may become like the angels themselves, helping others who are in need. In prayer and service our lights will always shine. Service is the oil to our lamps generated by compassion and love.
GRATITUDE is a choice that becomes a habit. It is a major ingredient in the alchemy of transformation and is closely related to love... Gratitude creates a combustion of energy that powers our living cells. That's why all spiritual traditions teach the importance of gratitude. It certainly isn't because the deity needs any reassurance. Rather it's because when we are in the state of gratitude, we're affirming our faith in our own highest good and denying authority to the paralyzing, constricting energy of fear.
Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live in every experience, painful or joyous; to live in gratitude for every moment, to live abundantly.
For me, prayer is a lifting up of the heart, a simple glance towards Heaven, a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trial as well as joy. It is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to God.
Within my being lives a silent power,
A firm, sound frame of wise and compassionate strength.
How often do I deny this gift,
This blessing from my Source?
Perhaps as the outward power of the sun recedes
I will learn to own the strength within.
I nourish my spiritual life, for therein lie my anchor. My understanding deepens; my faith that life has meaning grows.
Becky and Ephraim's youngest child, Annie, was born with a severe physical handicap. "Annie ... Annie", they squealed as everyone in the family touched and hugged her, never treating her as a hothouse flower, always as a normal healthy child. It was a laying-on-of-hands, a healing going on every moment.
I wasn't sure I could have stayed focused on the joy, but Becky was also realistic, understanding that something could go wrong and "Annie might be taken away from us." For now, God has given them a gift. Annie was their Treasure, their miracle.
No coward soul is mine,
No trembles in the world's
I see Heaven's glories shine,
And faith shines equal,
arming me from fear.
Agape is the love that consumes ... in one form: enthusiasm. For the ancients, enthusiasm meant trance, or ecstasy -- a connection with God. Enthusiasm is agape directed at a particular idea or a specific thing. We have all experienced it. When we love and believe from the bottom of our heart, we feel ourselves to be stronger than anyone in the world, and we feel a serenity that is based on certainty that nothing can shake our faith. This unusual strength allows us always to make the right decision at the right time, and when we achieve our goal, we are amazed at our own capabilities... We blame the world for our boredom and for our losses, and we forget that it was we ourselves who allowed this enchanting power to diminish -- the manifestation of agape in the form of enthusiasm.
Faith is the prayer of words unsaid,
The tear that falls upon the bed.
Faith is the hope of one "Amen",
The will that trusts and tries again.
Faith is the day made fresh and new
When evening draught absorbs the dew.
Faith is the thought that lifts to bless
The One beyond the arms' caress.
Faith is the sky that leaves its gray
To welcome in a sunny day.
Faith, in a moment, dares the thing
The heart petitions God to bring.
Only the Spirit of the Holy One can impart to the human spirit the knowledge of the holy. Yet as electric power flows only through a conductor, so the Spirit flows through Truth and must find some measure of Truth in the mind before It can illuminate the heart. Faith wakes at the voice of truth but responds to no other sound... Still, there must be humble penitence in the heart before Truth can produce faith.
To be in harmony does not mean that upheaval and upset don't occur, but that their very occurrence is used, fully used, as a gift of purification that leaves one in a deeper harmony with the dictates of one's core of being. Implicit in this is trust, open-eyed trust... True trust obeys no moral code, however archaistic. It is but the unexploitable, awakened faith of one who has left the promises of the mind for the already-present glory of their heartland. It is a joy, a fertile brilliance, a holy renewal, a yes that has room for every no, a yes both paradoxical and devastatingly simple, a yes wherein the elements dance and die, a yes aflame with the transcendence of blame, a yes already alive in you.
Stand firm in what you yourself believe. Hold to your own conviction of the Truth above any other source... The truth that is YOUR truth is written on the scrolls of your heart, for there too abides the Living God. Seek only to LIVE that truth, to hold your own light high so that those who grope in darkness may see, and to tread the path that you believe your life has set before you. If you remain true to yourself, if you believe in the right, and if you place your hand into the hand of God, then no evil, no lasting sorrow, and no permanent pain will ever befall you.
I believe that Spirit is one and is everywhere present. That it never leaves me. That in my ignorance I may withdraw from it, but I can realize its presence the instant I return to my senses... My faith is tested many times a day, and more times than I'd like to confess, I'm unable to keep the banner for faith aloft... I begin to doubt God and God's love. I fall so miserably into the chasm of disbelief that I cry out in despair. Then the Spirit lifts me up again, and once more I am secured in faith. I don't know how it happens, save when I cry out earnestly I am answered immediately and am returned to faithfulness. I am once again filled with Spirit and firmly planted on solid ground.
The movement of God's Spirit is very gentle, very soft -- and hidden. It does not seek attention. But that movement is also very persistent, strong and deep. It changes our hearts radically. The faithful discipline of prayers reveals to you that you are the blessed one and gives you the power to bless others.
Each soul must meet the morning sun,
the new sweet Earth and the Great Silence alone.
Nature is your friend; cherish her reverently in your silent moments, and she will bless you in secret.
In the point of rest at the center of our being, we encounter a world where all things are at rest in the same way. Then a tree becomes a mystery, a cloud a revelation, each person a cosmos of whose riches we can only catch glimpses. The life of simplicity is simple, but it opens to us a book in which we never get beyond the first syllable.
I part the out thrusting branches
and come in beneath
the blessed and the blessing trees.
Though I am silent
there is singing around me.
Though I am dark
there is vision around me.
Though I am heavy
there is flight around me.
I walked out onto a dock in the Gulf of Mexico. I ceased to exist. I experienced being a part of the sea breeze, the movement of the water and the fish, the light rays cast by the sun, the colors of the palms and tropical flowers. I had no sense of past or future. It was not a particularly blissful experience; it was terrifying. It was the kind of ecstatic experience I'd invested a lot of energy in avoiding. I did not experience myself as the SAME as the water, the wind, and the light, but as participating with them in the SAME SYSTEM of movement. We were all dancing together.
A chief must never forget the Creator, never forget to ask for help. The Creator will guide our thoughts and strengthen us as we work to be faithful to our sacred trust and restore harmony among all peoples, all living creatures, and Mother Earth. We were instructed to carry a love for one another and to show great respect for all the beings of this earth. In our ways, spiritual consciousness is the highest form of politics. When people cease to respect and express gratitude for these many things, then all life will be destroyed... These are our times and our responsibilities. Every human being has a sacred duty to protect the welfare of our Mother Earth, from whom all life comes. In order to do this, we must recognize the enemy -- the one within us. We must begin with ourselves.
softly in the whispering of the wind ...
sweetly in the melodies of the songbird ...
peacefully in the rustling of the leaves ... and,
lovingly in ways that touch your heart.
In the country it seems as if every tree said to me "Holy! Holy!"
Who can give complete expression to the ecstasy of the woods!
O, the sweet stillness of the woods!
My heart leaps out of my mouth at the sound of the winds in the woods. I, whose life was but yesterday so desultory and shallow, suddenly recover my spirits, my spirituality, through my hearing... Ah! if I could so live that there would be no desultory moments ... I would walk, I would sit and sleep, with natural piety. What if I could pray aloud, or to myself, as I went along by the brookside, a cheerful prayer, like the birds! And then, to think of those I love, who will know that I love them, though I tell them not ... I thank you, God. I do not deserve anything ... and yet the world is gilded for my delight ... my path is strewn with flowers... O keep my senses pure!
It is time to touch the Silence, to become one with nature and other people. When we go into the Silence, we learn to hear the rhythm of the great Mystery, the heartbeat of Earth. Going into the Silence, we learn to be alone with our thoughts:
To hear the Silence
To listen and to see the Silence
To listen and to taste the Silence
And, with closed eyes, to feel the Silence.
It is in quiet moments that we find our heartbeats. When we let go and search the dark warmth of our silence, we feel the rhythmic beat of the Earth vibrating, flowing toward us.
What struck me most was the silence. It was a great silence, unlike any I have ever encountered on Earth, so vast and deep that I began to hear my own body... There were more stars in the sky than I expected. The sky was deep black, yet at the same time bright with sunlight. The Earth was small, light blue, and so touchingly alone, our home that must be defended like a holy relic.
Grandfather continued, "Beyond the island of ego, the prison, lies the world of the spirit-that-moves-in-all-things, the force that is found in all things. It is a world that communicates to all entities of Creation and touches the Creator ... a world that expands our universe and helps us fuse ourselves to the earth... There is a bridge, which I call the 'Sacred Silence', that not only brings one to the ultimate purity of the spiritual mind and opens a clear communication, but also transports one to those worlds beyond the island of flesh... The pure mind is a common truth to all philosophies and religions, so the Sacred Silence, is found in all philosophies, though it is called by another name. That name is meditation.
It came as no great revelation or dramatic insight. Just a simple reminder that I chose my responsibilities and that behind each of them is love. They are not burdens or chores; they are expressions of love. When I am not caught up in anxiety, I enjoy the activities they require. And of all my chosen tasks and commitments, those that bring the greatest challenges, frustrations, joy and satisfaction are those that are born of my deepest love, my love for those who depend on my labor.
Unless we are rooted in God, and rooted in the only sure way of listening to God -- namely, silence -- then we are doomed to spend our lives standing at the window of life and watching the world go by... It strikes me that most of the first part of our lives is spent filling our heads with information. The last part -- and the most important part -- is spent emptying our heads of all the trivia so that our hearts may be free to learn wisdom -- in silence.
My mind is still; my ego has been set at rest. The peace in my heart matches the peace at the heart of nature... No longer am I a feverish fragment of life; I am indivisible from the Whole. I live completely in the present, released from the prison of the past with its haunting memories and vain regrets; released from the prison of the future with its tantalizing hopes and tormenting fears. All the enormous capacities formerly trapped in past and future flow to me here and now, concentrated in the hollow of my palm. No longer driven by the desire for personal pleasure or profit, I am free to use all these capacities to alleviate the suffering of those around me. In living for others I come to life.
The source of loving service for others is a heart that is aware, sensitive and conscious of one's own feelings and the feelings of others -- this is the goal of meditation.
We must begin where we are. For many people the heavy responsibilities of home and family and earning a living absorb all their time and strength. Yet such a home -- where love is -- may be a light shining in a dark place, a silent witness to the reality and the love of God. We must begin where we are, but once we have put ourselves and our lives into God's hands to be used when and where God wills, we must be on the alert, peacefully busy, but inwardly watching for signs of the will of God in the ordinary setting of our lives. To ears which have been trained to wait upon God in silence, and in the quietness of meditation and prayer, a very small incident, or a word, may prove to be a turning-point in our lives, and a new opening for God's love to enter our world, to create and redeem.
Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art.
There are some things that require no work... You don't have to work to achieve a silent mind; you don't have to work to find the old wounds. All these things are a given, once they are uncovered. The uncovering begins wherever you are now, but its goal is always the same -- the revelation of wholeness that unites body, mind and Spirit as one.
In an Indian village everything is related to the sacred and nothing is done without some sacrifice... If we are building a house, a hermitage or any other building, the craftsmen will come along and the first thing they will do is choose an auspicious day and hour. When the time comes for work to begin, they are all there for the blessing, ready to consecrate their work. They will not begin any work without that. When the work is coming to its fulfillment, ... there is another blessing because we can neither begin nor complete our work without God... The builder also relates to the cosmos. Building is a total act and therefore, it is totally consecrated.
The more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life.
This is the secret. You must step back, separate yourself from your everyday thoughts and habitual gestures: look at them. It is patient work, like the work of the watchmaker who observes the spirals and gears under the lens, cleans and calibrates. The secret is to retreat deep into oneself until one encounters an almost imperceptible vibration, which then becomes more and more evident, a silent, separate, calm vibration. Those who anchor themselves in this possess serenity all day long.
It is within my power either to serve God, or not to serve. Serving, I add to my own good and the good of the whole world. Not serving, I forfeit my own good and deprive the world of that good, which was in my power to create.
Learning how to put your gifts and your power to work in the most positive manner is what it is all about right now. Many people are just existing, until one day they wake up and find out who they are... We are here on Earth because this is where people have all the possibilities for growing to their fullest potential. As you awaken to another level of consciousness, you will be able to reach out and be a beneficial presence to other people.
"Life work" means that to which one will devote one's energies. It is the world of the soul, as well as the material work done in the visible world. These categories of tasks are not separate: they are not inimical to one another any more than sweeping the temple, washing the vestments, or cleaning and arranging the altar are inimical to the act of prayer. On the contrary, these tasks are prayer. They are the work of the soul in that they provide a suitable atmosphere for the cultivation of a contemplative and receptive attitude.
During this season may we pause
To feel the presence of Love,
See the Light of spiritual awareness,
And enjoy the peace of our Universe
As we recognize our Oneness with everything.
I would not dance, unless Thou leadest me.
Wouldst Thou that I spring mightily,
Then must Thou sing for me.
Thus will I leap into love,
From love into knowledge into joy,
From joy beyond all human senses.
All meditation aims to bring the person, mind and body to silence, stillness and simplicity of spirit by means of an inner "object of attention". The act of attention is the inner sacrifice, and the work of paying attention is the school of letting go. The utter simplicity of such a way to joy and peace makes one laugh. God seduces us by simplicity.
A joyful mind is very ordinary and relaxed... When your aspiration is to lighten up, you begin to have a sense of humor. Things just keep popping your serious state of mind. In addition to a sense of humor, a basic support for a joyful mind is curiosity, paying attention, taking an interest in the world around you... Noticing everything. Appreciate everything, including the ordinary. That's how to click in with JOYfulness.
Unless we can give up the old life, we can never experience the new. In our youth, we lived in the today and looked forward to the future and the challenge it would hold. As we matured, we became hypnotized by repetition and the habits of everyday life, feeling secure in our routine. So many times we find ourselves settling for what is a full cup of yesterdays. If you desire JOY in your life, have the courage to empty the cup of yesterdays so that it might be filled with the newness of today.
Essentially, prayer is attentiveness to God, and this has various degrees, from weak or faltering to total. This attentive attitude is itself the fruit of love; God's love becomes the dominant commitment of the will. The person has achieved purity of heart and spiritual wholeness. Joy takes hold of the heart, transmuting every moment into the irresistible attraction and power of divine love.
JOY is experienced when true spiritual grace allows one to transcend suffering.
If we are committed in our lives to the force of lovingkindness, then people know that they can trust us. We will not deceive them; we will not harm them. By being a beacon of trustworthiness in this world, we become a safe haven for others. We become a good friend to people, and can experience the JOY of intimacy with life.
I cannot believe that the inscrutable universe turns on an axis of suffering; surely the strange beauty of the world must somewhere rest on pure joy!
When selfishness vanishes, all you want from life is to give. It is a constant source of joy. Not that you are blind to sorrow. Personal suffering is gone, but for that very reason there is no barrier separating you from the suffering of others. And that immense empathy releases intense action. "What one takes in by contemplation," Eckhart says, "one pours out in love." You live to give, to alleviate the sorrow and improve the lives of those around you, and in that giving is more joy than the world knows. It is the perfect fusion of the inward and outward currents of life, of meditation and action.
When you live life from your center, you operate from the indwelling spirit outwards into the visible world, like the spokes of a wheel, radiating God's love, wisdom and power. This is what is meant by being in the world but not of it. You remain calm in a crisis. You carry this calmness with you through the ordinary activities of the day, even when things go wrong... Centered in peace, you experience JOY... This is the culmination of growth in being. What you ARE, far more than what you say or do, will be the witness of your faith.
Joy is a gift from Universe and Divinity.
Sorrow and Pain are there for the healing.
Through touching of the heart,
the Heart is Opened.
Then the Knowledge may enter,
To return the seeker to Balance.
Watch now, for the Joy and Sorrow
And in that is their dissolution,
Leaving nothing to perceive by Truth.
Embrace the Truth, for always it is precisely
who you are in your Eternal Being.
For, the soul tastes the supreme joy of being, not only in the cave of the heart, but also in the endless multiplicity of her contacts with the world and nature of which she is part. Every moment is a sacrament of eternity; every event a sign and a sacrament of the perfect Bliss; for nothing in the universe can escape being transformed by Divine Love at every moment of time. In the crucible of faith and love, all our joys, the greatest as well as the least, and our sorrows, too, are taken up into the one eternal Joy in the heart of God and in the hearts of saints.
Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only they who see
take off their shoes.
A fish cannot drown in water,
A bird does not fall in air.
In the fire of creation,
Gold doesn't vanish:
The fire brightens.
Each creature God made
Must live in its own true nature;
How could I resist my nature,
That lives for oneness with God?
Birth is a miracle in every germinating seed.
Happiness is a butterfly which,
when pursued, is always
beyond our grasp, but which
if you sit down quietly,
may alight upon you.
It was architect Mies van der Rohe who said, "God dwells in the details". Scientists study fractals to find order hidden within chaos, the details of our world. Fractals -- we are finding that they suggest an underlying order in things as diverse as stock market fluctuations, flooding ... and the order hidden within the chaos of a running stream. I catch hints and whispers of a beneficent universe... Our familiar, intimate environment is a universe in itself -- and one full of delightful revelations.
Each of us has the responsibility to protect sacred land and life in every country of the world, in whatever way he or she can. We must remember that lightning and wind are not controlled by human boundaries. A sacred breath unifies the divine web of life. Any part that is broken affects us all. May you walk in balance.
God is the mirror of silence in which all creation is reflected.
I pledge allegiance to the Earth and to the flora, fauna and human life that it supports, one planet, indivisible, with safe air, water and soil, economic justice, equal rights and peace for all.
Deep rivers move in silence ... shallow brooks are noisy.
Throughout my life, by means of my life, the world has little by little caught fire in my sight until, aflame all around me, it has become my experience in contact with the earth -- the diaphany of the Divine at the heart of the universe on fire ... Christ's heart, a fire! capable of penetrating everything and gradually spreading everywhere.
It is necessary that we find God, who cannot be found in noise and unpeace. God is the friend of silence. See how Nature -- trees, flowers, and grass -- grow in stillness; how stars, moon, and sun run their course in silence. The more we receive through quiet prayer, the more we can give in the activity of our daily lives. In essence, it is not what WE say, but what GOD says to us and through us. All our words are useless if they do not come from within.
Thy voice is heard as a melodious chant in the stillness of my heart, and is translated in my head by words which are inadequate and yet replete with Thee. And these words are addressed to the Earth, remember that I am present in you and lose not hope; each effort, each grief, each joy and each pang, each call of thy heart, each aspiration of thy soul, each renewal of thy seasons, all, all without exception, what seems to thee sorrowful and what seems to thee joyous, what seems to thee ugly and what seems to thee beautiful, all infallibly lead thee towards me, who am endless Peace, shadowless Light, perfect Harmony, Certitude, Rest and Supreme Blessedness.
Hearken, O Earth, to the sublime voice that arises,
Hearken, and take new courage.
When you see the world as part of yourself, you will take care of it. When you see yourself as part of the world, you will be cared for.
In the shining secret garden, the solitary sign of the crocus speaks once more through blackened snow. The poet's word has revived with the resurrected flower, echoing the refrain of the One Song.
For some minutes my mind knows only a silent stillness within, a meditation without effort, a celebration of occasion. Slowly my vision focuses on a bird of red-streaked, chocolate-covered feathers and bright orange beak... I have been watching her a long while now without registering, labeling or defining her particular condensation of being, taking her as much for granted as she appears to take me. So beautiful. So natural. A bird in a tree.
but the music is Thine.
I know not how Thou singest ...
I ever listen in silent amazement.
The light of Thy music illumines the world.
The life breath of Thy music runs from sky to sky.
The holy stream of Thy music breaks through all stony obstacles
and rushes on.
My heart longs to join in Thy song, but vainly struggles for a voice.
I would speak but speech breaks not into song,
and I cry out baffled.
Ah, Thou has made my heart captive in the endless meshes of my music ...
Life. It was in the water too. Each drop from the waterfall had its own intelligence and purpose. A melody of majestic beauty carried from the waterfall and filled the garden. The music came from the water itself, from its intelligence, and each drop produced its own tone and melody which mingled and interacted with every other strain and sound around it. The water was praising God for its life and joy ...
Though a world of increasing deafness shattered Beethoven's dreams of success in the outer world of society, it also caused him to turn within. And while human relationships came and went, Beethoven was discovering God, the eternal companion. This reorientation of his soul may well be the primary reason for the higher level of composition in his second period creations ... stemming from a fundamental need to express through music new and deeper worlds of soul-experience. Whereas before he composed for himself, in his second period, Beethoven was consciously striving to become the musical servant of God.
Enter into the Silence, into the
Heart of Truth;
For herein lies the Great Mystery
where life is ever unfolding;
Herein the Divine Plan is made known,
the Plan all are invited to serve.
Listen for the music of the Holy Word
in the resounding Silence of
May balance and harmony be your aim
as you are drawn into the
Heart of Love.
If prayer is the central core of life, then dance becomes prayer when we are expressing our relationship to God, to others, and to the world of matter and spirit, through movement originating from our deepest selves -- this same central point of worship. The movements of dance-prayer start from our deep center, flow outward like rivulets into the stream of life, and impart life everywhere. So dance can be a part of prayer, just as stillness can be a part of music. There is one root; all the rest, movement or stillness, silence or sound, is its expression. The closer the source, the purer the song.
The discovery that God is as close to us as water in a sponge, or that God is in our body's veins and arteries as well as in the veins and arteries of our lives, is the fundamental music accompanying the entire dance of the spirit... Through every movement and every gestures, every turn and return, every leap forward and every silent rest, the music remains -- not only beneath and over and under and next to and within. In the trees and in the lakes, in the laughter and in the tears, in the animals and in the sun, in the soil, the fire, the air, the water. In the lure and the invitation ... the responding, the searching, the finding, the remembering. And in every one of us.
All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. And we must pass through solitude and difficulty, isolation and silence, in order to reach forth to the enchanted place where we can dance our clumsy dance and sing our sorrowful song -- but in this dance or in this song there are fulfilled the most ancient rites of our conscience in the awareness of being human and of believing in a common destiny.
The aim and final reason of all music should be nothing else but the glory of God and the refreshment of the Spirit.
Old illustrations show God tuning the great musical instrument of creation... We all vibrate sympathetically like different octaves of the same tone, our human hearts pulsing in the same rhythms as those of the material and spiritual worlds... We know we are well on the way toward soul when we feel interconnected to the world and the people around us and when we live as much from the heart as from the head.
So shall I sing my song. The melody winds through creation and forms the Name of the deepest Mystery and Being ... is unspeakable and as simple as the bee and the hummingbird and flower, is as constant and as changing as the cosmos. The Name is Now. With each moment the song is new. Each call of the Holy in and to me releases a surprise of melody I never knew I knew before. I didn't. Awareness. The Holy One makes all things new -- always, all ways, now. I must be attentive to my singing. I am new. I can always be a song fuller than could be imagined yesterday. I sing my life and I sing creation. Your Name is the song.
We receive according to the emptiness of our hearts and hands.
When a young man in Uganda, a great soccer player, had his knee purposely blown out by someone in a soccer game, ending his professional career, he could have chosen bitterness. But instead, he began to help other young men who were aimless and without directions, who were on drugs, in gangs, doing nothing.
First he gave himself to building them up by teaching them to be soccer players. Once that relationship was established, he helped them develop skills and crafts, so that they could make a living and then become responsible fathers and community contributors...You could see how his own soul was nurtured by his desire to contribute, to focus outside himself.
May you give me work till my life shall end
And life till my work is done.
The universe is my way.
Love is my law.
Peace is my shelter.
Experience is my school.
Obstacle is my lesson.
Difficulty is my stimulant.
Pain is my warning.
Work is my blessing.
Balance is my attitude.
(The Voice of Silence is my guide.)
As we lose our vagueness about our self, our values, our life situation, we become available to the moment. It is there, in the particular, that we contact the creative self. Until we experience the freedom of solitude, we cannot connect authentically. We may be enmeshed, but we are not encountered. Art lies in the moment of encounter: we meet ourselves and we meet our self-expression. We become original because we become something specific: an origin from which work flows.
O God, that at all times You may find me as You desire me and where You would have me be, that You may lay hold on me fully, both by the Within and the Without of myself, grant that I may never break the double thread of my life.
Doing work which has to be done over and over again helps us recognize the natural cycles of growth and decay, of birth and death, and thus become aware of the dynamic order of the universe. "Ordinary" work, as the root meaning of the term indicates, is work that is in harmony with the order we perceive in the natural environment.
Our satisfaction lies in submission to the divine embrace.
We saw our good life not as a model for others, but as a pilgrimage, for us, to the best way we could conceive of living. We felt a glad responsibility in joining with the stream of onward life, with the whole magnificent enterprise. This was living a life of affirmation, of contribution, of making every act and every day purposeful. To live the good life, we found, was to do the best we were capable of in any set of circumstances.
The true prophetic message always calls us to stretch our arms out wide and embrace the whole world. In holy boldness we cover the earth with the grace and mercy of God. This is a great task, a noble task... Helmut Thielicke writes, "The globe itself lives and is upheld as by Atlas arms through the prayers of those who love has not grown cold. The world lives by these uplifted hands, and by nothing else!"
For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin -- real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.
Through intuitions received in the silence and holiness of your own inner sanctuary, you will get the guiding Light you need in your work.
Let us, like a painter, take time to stand back from our work, to be still, and thus to see what's what... True repose is standing back to survey the activities that fill our days.
Perhaps the important matter is that we are who we are and where we are by a maze of reasons unknown to us. Our work is to make our way through our situation with faith and courage and whatever else it takes... In the end we are not only a mystery to one another but even to ourselves. The task is to live the mystery rather than unravel it.
Our society has forgotten that all of life can be a work of art, even the most mundane-seeming tasks... There is great beauty in cleanliness and order and bringing it into being. Watering the plants is as necessary as cleaning the stove, and vice versa. All these tasks bespeak care for oneself and others, and appreciation of the opportunity to create a temenos -- a sanctuary, a safe and sacred place.
If my prayer life is strong and deeply rooted, then I will be better able to carry an equally heavy load of work, to bear the weight of our sisters' and brothers' pain and suffering, because it will not be me carrying the load, but God.
True prayer expresses gratitude for what already is...
The hieroglyphy for peace is a simple loaf of bread set on a reed mat. It implies nurturing, simplicity, contentment, and rest, a prayer of thankfulness before a meal, an offering made.
The heart is contented because it receives what it needs and its needs are simple: silence, prayer, nourishment, presence. Simplicity of the heart keeps our aims and purposes in life clear... In peace we contemplate our lives and concentrate our energies on the true desires of the heart aligned with God.
We learn that patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to live each moment, knowing that we will be attended to by God.
Best of all is to preserve everything in a pure, still heart, and let there be for every pulse a thanksgiving, and for every breath a song.
In all things may we be grateful, our hearts open to joy.
O Blessed one, speak to us within our hearts;
let your Voice be heard.
As we listen and heed your Word, joy will be our song of thanks.
As you lead us into the Silence, we become friends with solitude;
With trust in You, our lives become simple, with assurance
and peace leaving no room for fear.
All that we have is gift from You, O Beloved,
all that we are is Yours as well.
May we come to see that all we give to others,
we give to ourselves and You.
Gratitude is the vision of the Giver, not of the gift. It comes from God. Hope and fear are like the two wings of a bird when it is flying straight to its destination. If one wing fails, its flight fails and if both fail, it dies. Hope is the vision of God in perfect beauty.
Each thing I have received, from Thee it came,
Each thing for which I hope, from Thy love it will come,
Each thing I enjoy, it is of Thy bounty,
Each thing I ask comes of Thy disposing.
It is hard to explain to a loving person who can only give, what the refusal to receive does to would-be givers. If our gifts come out of the substance of who we are, to refuse our gifts is a rejection of our very self. At the same time, the turning away of a gift destroys the reciprocity of love. In place of mutuality, it sets up a hierarchy of love that makes the one who always receives and whose gifts are refused feel empty, powerless, and incompetent to love well, and so unable in turn to receive from the beloved with a grateful heart.
To learn to be grateful for each challenge, every heart, every tear, as well as for the unexpected joy and love you encounter, is a lesson of great growth. Every experience is a step closer to your eventual union with the Source of All Creation. Even a moment of expressing your gratitude for your own creation, your own eternal life each day brings you closer to the love and power within.
You can add enjoyment and meaning to any task by beginning each one with an awareness of the Divine Presence and by taking a moment of silence to be grateful for all you are able to do! Even the most difficult or mundane task can be done effortlessly and joyfully when approached with an attitude of thanksgiving. You are open to new creativity, new energy, and new inspiration. While working, focus on the Divine Presence, and see how the day goes by with ease and efficiency ... see how your work is blessed.
We seat ourselves so that we are evenly spaced from one another and begin to meditate. In my own meditation, I see how I have tried to control a situation in which a friend wanted to participate -- a situation that was actually beyond my control. In retrospect, I recognize that the presence of my friend has been a blessing. In gratitude, I realize that I must always be ready to shift and adapt, for in rigid resistance, I might miss my greatest opportunities.
As you open yourself to your soul, a calming sense of peace and connectedness develops within you. This peaceful feeling deepens your levels of thought, releases the innate healing powers of your body, reminds you to be grateful for all the gifts of life, and broadens your perspective, so that you can be at peace with the way things are.
Prayer opens the heart. Each time we pray we are connecting with a greater source of energy and we are amplifying that energy. Our gratitude, thanksgiving, for even the smallest gift we have received, allows our heart to open. The more the heart opens, the larger our vision becomes. This prayer, this energy, links us with all the goodness on the planet.
By teaching in silence and by bringing down the force of the Light, you are asking for a very deep and very intense surrender. What is surrender?
To offer everything to the Divine is surrender. To give our live our lives to the Divine is surrender. Simplicity is surrender...Always remember, no matter how great we are, that there is something greater -- the Divine. To be humble is surrender...Whatever you do, give it to God with a grateful and humble heart.
Notice that the more you become a connoisseur of gratitude, the less you are the victim of resentment, depression, and despair. Gratitude will act as an elixir that will gradually dissolve the hard shell of your ego -- your need to possess and control -- and transform you into a generous being. The sense of gratitude produces true spiritual alchemy, makes us magnanimous -- large souled.
I often wonder what it would be like if we dared to love this life -- the fragile and the vulnerable, the endangered, daring to be humble before the magnitude of our beginnings, daring to learn our species into a stubborn and pliant wonder, until reverence shines in all that we do -- until we live an economics of reverence -- until it permeates education, development and health care, homes and relationship, arts and agriculture -- a reverence for life, for planetary, social and personal wholeness. This is our purpose now. May we do it well, with thoroughness and love.
What a gift each morning to encounter some part of nature... It is a pure gift of beauty, of life. The sunrise can be a reminder of the day's gift because it comes unbidden. We don't produce it. The light is given. The world is reborn each morning, and we are given a whole new time of opportunity. Even if the difficulties are the same we had yesterday, we can tackle them in a new way. Primordial freshness is renewed each morning.
"The world is a sacred place and a sacred process," I told her, "and we're part of it."
“That's excellent -- simple and to the point. This is what was understood -- and is still understood among Leaver peoples. Wherever you were in the world, you found people who took it for granted that the world is a sacred place, and that we belong in that sacred place as much as any creature in the world." Smiling, she looked around the park, as if giving it a silent farewell. Then she included me in the smile as she said, "Maybe someday someone will find a way to say it that makes the ground tremble."
The earth gives us life. The world around is beautiful and meant to be viewed with respect and wonder... The Sioux holy man, Black Elk, expressed it well when he said that any place you are is the center of the world. This beautiful creation is always speaking to us, it is just that we sometimes do not stop to look and listen. We forget to see as we were meant to see, not just through our eyes, but through the eye of the heart.
Stone is storyteller.
Stone is meditation master.
Stone performs the dance of stillness.
Listen! The streams carry Love's Voice
mingled with bird song
sharing gratitude and praise
in support of Life!
Listen! Join the song of Creation!
Walk and touch peace every moment.
Walk and touch happiness every moment.
Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom under our feet.
Kiss the Earth with your feet.
Print on Earth your love and happiness.
Earth will be safe
When we feel in us enough safety.
The awareness of the unity and interconnectedness of all beings leads -- if it is consistent -- to an empathy with others. It expresses itself as reverence of life, compassion, a sense of the communion of suffering humanity, and the commitment to heal our wounded earth and its peoples.
In the point of rest at the center of our being, we encounter a world where all things are at rest in the same way. Then a tree becomes a mystery, a cloud a revelation, each individual a cosmos of whose riches we can only catch glimpses. The life of simplicity is simple, but it opens to us a book in which we never get beyond the first syllable.
Because nature within us is part of the same great pattern as nature without, to begin the turn-around from "ravaged" land to "reverenced" land, the first step is to take time out to permit our inner patterns to re-align with the greater beings -- the sun and the atmosphere -- which give us our life here on Earth.
Uncle explained that the pines and oaks will not spread into the fields to grow and make a new woods, unless we leave the ground unseeded. My uncle envisioned that this barren land was to become a new forest, one of great beauty and repose. "To be poor and be without trees, is to be the most starved human being in the world. To be poor and have trees, is to be completely rich in ways that money can never buy."
All things by immortal power
near or far
to each other linked are.
Thou can'st not stir a flower
Without troubling a star.
If we could even for a moment throw away our concepts and see with the inner eye through all the veils of conditioning, we would know there is only one world, one indissoluble whole. We would see that all creatures on earth are part of a sinle system. There is no preferred species; there is no preferred race. In the Eye of Wisdom ... What we do, we must do in this very moment. There is no other preferred moment. When we can accept what is before our eyes, accept it with whole heart, we no longer have anything to fear, anything to long for. All we need to set the world aright is here. We have only to see it.
To dance through life
we must listen to the
The first three notes -- the root, the fifth, and the minor third -- seemed entirely magical. In their simplicity he heard the implication of the whole piece itself, and from that, from his awareness of the fugue, came an awareness of all-of-music, as if all notes were contained in any single note. The perception was evanescent, but so powerful as to wipe away thoughts of himself. Music is here! Music has been here forever and always will be here! It was so much larger than life, so ineluctable strong, so potent an indicator of a kind of heaven on earth, that all else was swept before it. He saw this in a flash. In a nanosecond.
One cultivates silence not by forcing the ears not to hear, but by turning up the volume on the music of the world and soul.
Some time ago, I was at a concert and listening to the orchestra beginning to tune up. It was the most discordant sound I've ever heard. Each instrument was playing in its own way, in total disharmony. Then the oboe, a quiet little instrument, began to play and all the other instruments turned in on its note. And gradually, all the disharmony began to calm down. Then there was silence, and the concert began. It seems to me that the mantra is very much like that little oboe. In meditation, the mantra brings all the parts of our being, one by one, bit by bit, into harmony. And when we are in harmony, we are the music of God.
We are part of the tremendous through
Forever surging in transcendent flight,
Perilous though the journey be long.
And all, it is ordained, will earn the right
To add our separate voices to the song
Rising triumphant from the chorus of the light.
Silence can contain within it all the music that can be played, for all of it emerges from silence. A word is a note. Silence is a symphony.
One night, as I kneeled beside my bed and prayed, I gazed through my window at the starry night. I thought of how God was THROUGH, and yet BEYOND, all space. Suddenly, I had the sensation of being surrounded by a musical harmony like a great anthem, only inaudible to the human ear. Then I just seemed to evaporate until I too was THROUGH and BEYOND the stars.
I was completely filling space, and the musical harmony was completely filling me. I did not see the proverbial Light, I experienced it. I did not hear the anthem, I was it... I understood that everything was part of God, everything in the universe was one.
There are those who know all the notes; and there are those who know the music.
Without music no discipline can be perfect, for there is nothing without it. For the very universe is held together by a certain harmony of sounds, and the heavens themselves are made to revolve by the modulation of harmony. Music moves the feelings and changes the emotions... The very beasts also, even serpents, birds, and dolphins, music incites to listen to her melody. And every word we speak, every pulsation in our veins, is related by musical rhythms to the powers of harmony.
The infinite musical variations of wind, water, and bird summon differently, but each is woven into delightful textures of notes, tones, and silences.
In total silence he perceived a distant melody. It could be coming from the stars, from the bottom of the sea or from the night itself... It was not like any other, not even like the purring of the sea on tranquil nights before the storms... Juan sang drawn by the music that reached him, and, like the night, his song made him brother to the trees, the seagull, the mollusks, the wild flowers that spring up in the sand. "This melody is the murmur of the sea that covers all humankind."
BACH gave us God's Word
MOZART gave us God's Laughter
BEETHOVEN gave us God's Fire
gave us MUSIC that we
might pray without words.
We each listen to a different music within, one uniquely our own. A special joy is finding and refining the creative spark which leads us to follow in rhythm to the pace and tempo of our God-given talents.
At a certain pitch of religious experience, the heart just wants to sing; it breaks into song. Paradoxically, you could say when silence finds its fullness, it comes to word. As the Book of Wisdom says, "When night in its swift course had reached its halfway point and deep silence embraced everything" -- when night was at its darkest and deepest -- there "the eternal Word leaped from the Heavenly throne": silence burst into song.
The origins of music lie far back in time. It arises out of proportion and is rooted in the Great One ... That from which all beings arise and have their origin is the Great One ... When the world is at peace, when all things are at rest, then music can be brought to perfection.
We can be played by the wind, and what we speak will be the sound of the moment, bringing with the word the possibility of real change rather than the apparency of change. We all know this somewhere deep within ourselves, and although God gives us everything, it is up to us to be so finely tuned that the music that is played is of Truth itself.
In all our activities we may be seeking God: in our work, on our social occasions, as we walk along the road, even when we are so busy that we have not time to think of anything except what we are doing... God can deal with us under a thousand forms for our spiritual hallowing. Behind all the strange puzzles of life there is the secret working of God, creating life, creating character, accepting service -- all sorts of spiritual shaping going on.
True service isn't an act, but an attitude. We can do things for other people with all kinds of self-serving motives. True service, however, stems from a feeling of humility, gratitude, and the essential recognition that we are in this together... Service is love in action -- as simple as a friendly smile or nod to a stranger -- or as all embracing as the life of Peace Pilgrim or Mother Teresa.
Good work that leaves the world softer and fuller and better than ever before is the stuff of which human satisfaction and spiritual value are made.
When you take a dirty floor ... and make it spotlessly clean, and this polish it until it shines, it radiates back to you the love which you poured into it; the divinity of that floor has been drawn forth.
"All the stages of one's work have a poetic nature," he continued. "No one gets paid for keeping their own tools cleaned. It is an act of real art; otherwise you don't have a rapport with the tool; then it becomes a rebellious servant, not respected, not properly handled."
One day I confided to Ruth that I felt her house was a living thing. She recalled returning to her home after being aways for four months. "I waxed and shined desks and chairs, and these dead objects returned to life. Their wood almost sprouted new leaves and blossoms. I no longer felt desolate in the house."
Tino's relationship with his tools, and Ruth's care and tending of the objects in her home speak of their attitude to all things. I had to go away, to a foreign land in America, before I could see that the qualities I was looking for were here, practically in my own backyard.
Art arises from a spiritual longing that all people share: to make our mark on the world and to spend our life energy in a work that rises above the mundane, adding grace to existence. We respond to the light of the world around us by giving expression to our own inner light, and when the two are on the same wave-length, the world seems more brilliant and finely focused.
May your feet ever lead you to where your heart is...
May your work and your heart's joy ever be as one.
Any type of work can be meaningful. It is the spirit in which you do it that makes the difference.
Things just happen in the right way, at the right time. At least they do when you LET them, when you work WITH circumstances instead of saying, "This isn't supposed to be happening this way", and trying hard to make it happen some other way. If you're in tune with The Way Things Work, then they work the way they need to, no matter what you may think about it at the time. Later on, you can lookback and say, "Oh, now I understand. That had to happen so that THOSE could happen, and those had to happen in order for THIS to happen..." Then you realize that even if you'd tried to make it all turn out perfectly, you couldn't have done better, and if you'd REALLY tried, you would have made a mess of the whole thing.
To see our work as prayer and an opportunity to bring forth a flash of truth is a great gift. To know that even the busy world is a holy world is quite a change of heart.
Communication with God is a deep inner knowing that God is within you and around you. God "speaks" through the still, small voice within. When you have constant communion with God, a constant receiving from within, there is never any doubt; you know your way. You become an instrument through which a job is done, therefore you have no feeling of self-achievement... The main things, if you are to find inner peace, are to bring your life into harmony with the laws which govern this universe (these are the same for all of us), and to find and fit into your special work in this world -- your job in the divine plan.
Our age has its own particular mission or vocation: the creation of a civilization founded upon the spiritual nature of work.
There are times not to answer the door, not to answer the phone, not to do undone things, but to rest in silence from everything. The world can wait five minutes. In fact no matter how busy we are, no matter how well organized, no matter how little rest we allow ourselves, we will never do all that needs to be done. But to do well what we are called to do, it is essential to nurture a capacity for inner stillness. Such quiet, deep-down listening is itself prayer.
The object of leisure is work. The object of work is holiness ... meaning wholeness. Recreation is for the sake of work. Leisure time is for the sake of recreation in order that the labourer may the better return to work. Games are like sleep -- necessary for the health of body and mind -- a means to health, the health of the labourer, the one who prays, the contemplative. Leisure is secular, work is sacred. Holidays are the active life, the working life is the contemplative life.
Guild members, we are told, would begin their day with the master in prayer to the guild's patron saint before turning to the work, and prayers of one kind or another punctuated the whole day. ... Oh, for the ordered structure of the guild workshop! The strong clear voice "re-minding" me, in the real sense of that word, to return to the silence.
Entering the world of the spirit, I saw a vision which I could not adequately describe if I lived for a thousand years. The central part was a broad highway lined with beautiful trees radiating all the colors of the rainbow. Each tree bore all the fruits known to me and many others I had never seen before. The nine-pointed star was situated at the end of the road and drew me towards it and in the distance there were parks and gardens with rare trees from many countries and friends of all colors and creeds. Dominating the garden of delight was The Tree of Life with leaves for the healing of the Nations.
Is everything holy? I learn that when the upper limb of a cottonwood tree is cut crosswise, the grain reveals a perfect five-pointed star. The star is understood as a sign of the Great Spirit's presence and the tree's holy nature. Even the breeze blowing through the cottonwood leaves is understood to be its prayer... Who would ever notice, in my busy life, that a star is secreted in a cottonwood tree? It makes me wonder, are there equally hidden depths inside of me?
I was learning to live in Nature, shaping my life, my everyday activities in a direct way according to the weather, the seasons, the rising and setting of the sun and moon. I was once again becoming aware of Nature's all-powerful presence. If anyone had asked me, I would still have been unable to say what might be learned from Peter asleep among his animals on the prairie as I had seen him that first summer, but I was learning it. I was learning it slowly, painfully, in solitude and silence and out of my own experience.
No matter how deeply I go down
My God is dark, and like a webbing
made of a hundred roots
that drink in silence.
Silently a flower blooms,
In silence it falls away;
Yet here now, at this moment,
at this place,
the whole of the flower
the whole of the world is blooming.
This is the talk of the flower,
the truth of the blossom;
The glory of eternal life is fully
As the human species awakens to itself as a collection of immortal souls learning together, care for the environment and the earth will become a matter of the heart, the natural response of souls moving toward their full potential.
What is needed above all is that we should treat our social and cosmic environment AS AN ACTUAL LIVING BEING, with which we are in the most intimate reciprocal action, though without becoming merged into uniformity with it.
I am silent now. It is not an empty silence. It is a natural silence. The silence of wind, of waves, of breath, of the beating of my heart. It is a space in my soul for being aware. It is a silence that listens, gently, taking notice. I can simply Be. I am the space within. I am the round sky and the firm earth. The waves of life wash through me, and the wind of the spirit cries in my heart.
Sacred dance expresses spiritual convictions. Dancing is the "breath of life" made visible. I feel I will dance as long as my heart stays strong and my body will move. We dance these ceremonies for the people, for our universe, for peace, love, and caring. We step softly on the earth, lifting our feet to the song and the drum. We do it to be blessed. We ask for the people to be blessed. We ask that life go on as long as it can. We ask that the animals, birds and plants be bountiful. Ceremony constitutes our world; it is our spiritual conversation. Life begets life. This is why we dance.
In the mountain, stillness surges up
to explore its own height;
In the lake, movement stands still
to contemplate its own depths.
The earth is languishing for more contemplatives. We have not even been courteous to her, much less respectful. We have never sincerely asked forgiveness for our massive exploitation of her. We have failed to see that she is numinous and to treat her with proper deference as our mother. It is time now for the child to mother the mother. Nothing less than a mysticism that can perceive the diaphany of the divine at the heart of matter itself is capable of experiencing mystical union with nature. Even if we have not had a vivid mystical experience, we can learn in prayer to meditate on what the union could imply.
All life is a form of cosmic celebration. What moves the stars through the heavens, the Earth through its seasons, and human beings through stages of growth and learning -- all is celebration. Look at the birds flying here and there, the flowers blooming, and the trees changing colors in the fall. It's all celebratory. We have only to express and become, ourselves, celebration.
Sing with me, for I am joy.
Listen for the divine music called the silence of the Spirit.
Within us, around us, the music of the spheres unfolds in rhythms celestial and melodies terrestrial... In the beginning was the creative sound, symphony, harmony and melody, every pattern and structure ever to be. The Word that was with God has not ceased to be; this very moment, it holds suspended within its vibratory magnificence, every atom, molecule, cell and organism. It sings the very earth into being. The sun, moon and planets share in a symphony of the heavens that includes every comet, asteroid and star-system in our galaxy -- and in a billion others.
Each individual who restores trust in God sounds a note in harmonic resonance with the entire cosmos. This magnifies the vibrations of the Holy Place.
Music is the breathing of our soul and consciousness. It is through music that the soul manifests itself in the world. When our higher consciousness is awakened, when we develop our capacity to perceive the subtler realities, we will begin to hear the great and glorious symphony that reverberates throughout space from one end of the universe to the other, and we will comprehend the deepest meaning of life.
When our two souls stand up erect and strong,
Face to face, silent, drawing nigh and nigher,
Until the lengthening wings break into fire
At either ... curved point, -- what bitter wrong
Can the earth do to us, that we should not long
Be here contented? Think! In mounting higher,
The angels would press upon us, and aspire
To drop some golden orb of perfect song
Into our deep, dear silence.
The gift of love is nothing short of a miracle, and the same is true for the experience of the singer who works with prayer: sung prayer is one of the many ways in which love is made audible and brought into the fullness of life... In sung prayer, one must risk burning and one must risk soaring, nothing less. Whether one falls in love or whether one sings in love, surrender is to be and to radiate love. In the case of the musician, this is done through the medium of music. In the case of the truly musical person, this can even be achieved through a silence which radiates interior harmony and, by extension, brings peace to those surrounding them.
Be like that bird
Who, pausing in flight,
Feels the bough give way
Beneath her feet
And yet sings
Knowing she hath wings.
The entire world is a musical instrument, the pole of the world celestial is intersected where this heavenly chord is divided by the spiritual sun. Earthly music is an echo of this cosmic harmony: it is a relic of heaven.
My soul sings, Beloved, You are the melody.
You are the strings on which I play.
You are the One for whom I sing.
You are all that is and my soul seeks Oneness with You.
Teach me the music of life, Beloved.
Teach me to play the instrument of my Being,
and of this world, that I might see and hear
and know more clearly the nearness of your Presence.
I would sing into the Oneness that You are.
Music reproduces for us the intimate essence, the temp and energy, of our spiritual being; our tranquility and our restlessness, our animation and our discouragement, our vitality and our weakness -- all, in fact, of the fine shades of dynamic variation of our inner life.
Music is not merely a rhythmic arrangement of notes, but derives its life from the matrix of silence out of which it arises and into which it flows. And it is the silence between the notes that gives them meaning and grace.
We thank Thee for all Thy golden silences --
Silence of friendship, telling more than words:
Silence of hearts, close-knitting heart to heart;
Silence of joys too wonderful for words;
Silence of sorrows, when Thou drawest near,
Silence of soul, wherein we come to Thee
And find ourselves in Thine immensity;
For that great Silence where Thou dwell'st alone --
Keeping watch above Thine own,
Deep unto deep, within us sound sweet chords
Of praise beyond the reach of human words;
In our souls' silence, feeling only Thee
We thank Thee, thank Thee, thank Thee.
To all else you have given us, O God, we ask you for but one thing more: Give us grateful hearts.
Expressions of gratitude create in others an eagerness to reciprocate. When we become more fully aware that our success is due in large measure to the loyalty, helpfulness, and encouragement we have received from others, our desire grows to pass on similar gifts. Gratitude spurs us on to prove ourselves worthy of what others have done for us. The spirit of gratitude is a powerful energizer.
Live your life so that the fear of death can never enter your heart. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for your food and the joy of living. And if perchance you see no reason for giving thanks, rest assured the fault is in yourself.
Here "Grace upon grace" is visible! "Gratitude upon gratitude" overcomes me. These are tears of joy that well up in me now. How grateful I am for everything, grateful for the gratitude! Forty days -- what wisdom lies in the exact measure of this time interval. Forty days, no more, no less! I am so grateful! I feel flooded with gentleness, acceptance, confidence, inner peace. May the veils never close again!
Eternal spirit of Justice and Love,
At this time of thanksgiving we would be aware
of our dependence on the earth and
on the sustaining presence of other human beings.
both living and gone before us.
As we partake of bread and wine,
may we remember that there are many
for whom sufficient bread is a luxury, or
for whom wine, when attainable,
is only an escape.
Let our thanksgiving for Life's bounty
include a commitment to changing the world,
that those who are now hungry may be filled,
and those without hope may be given courage.
Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.
Thanksgiving comes to us out of all the prehistoric dimness, universal to all ages and all faiths. At whatever straw we must grasp, there is always a time for gratitude and new beginnings.
The power of appreciation comes through actions. Feeling gratitude creates a wonderful internal experience; expressing it allows us to feel the full bloom of appreciation. Most significant would be our willingness on a moment-to-moment basis to find some aspect of every person and event to appreciate and then find a tangible way to express our gratitude.
Gratitude is the most fruitful way of deepening your consciousness that you are not an "accident", but a divine choice. It is important to realize how often we have had chances to be grateful and not have used them. When someone is kind to us, when an event turns out well, when a problem is solved, a relationship restored, a wound healed, these are very concrete reasons to offer thanks.
What fascinates me so much is that every time we decide to be grateful, it will be easier to see new things to be grateful for. Gratitude begets gratitude, just as love begets love.
Notice that the more you become a connoisseur of gratitude, the less you are the victim of resentment, depression, and despair. Gratitude will act as an elixir that will gradually dissolve the hard shell of your ego -- your need to possess and control -- and transform you into a generous being. The sense of gratitude produces true spiritual alchemy, makes us magnanimous -- large-souled.
I have learned silence from the talkative, tolerance from the intolerant, kindness from the unkind. I am grateful.
Since love and truth are the cornerstones of life and since they are but other names for praise and thanksgiving, it follows that praise and thanksgiving are important components of prayer. This is because prayer in its truest form is an alignment between the spiritual self of each of us with the spiritual Power that defies human understanding.
Thanks for the sympathies
that you have shown!
Thanks for each kindly word,
each silent token,
That reaches me, when
seeming most alone.
Friends are around us, though
no word be spoken.
Gratitude helps you to be receptive to the life force of the universe. Being appreciative empowers and strengthens you... If you have been praying for help and guidance and no one seems to be listening, start being thankful. Let go of your prayers for what you want and immerse yourself in thankfulness for what you have. When you are thankful, it is inevitable that you will gain in wisdom and inner strength.
Gardens are spaces of inhabiting in which we are entrusted with the very continuity of life itself. Our job is not to oversee or control, but to plant, prune, water, feed and encourage growth. We either make of the garden a verdant refreshing oasis or a desert, stripped of nutrients and barren of new life.
Peacemaking is a call that has been discerned when our garden's ripeness shows that we have learned that we inhabit one great garden, our earth, when we have learned that we are but one interwoven fabric of created life charged with mutual and tender cultivation by the One who gave and gives us life.
How the elder loved nature! He loved it in three different ways: as angels, children, and sages love it. When he walked through the forest with us, we felt the power of his prayers. It was as though ranks of angels surrounded us. The elder said very little in the midst of nature, but if he did say something, then it was with such child-like joy and simplicity that his earthly age disappeared. Nature for the elder was a book of the holy revelations of God.
The silence in the giant redwood forest near my home draws me. Many mornings I get up early and dress hurriedly to get to the woods before the tour buses and the cars arriving with people from all over the world come to marvel at the majesty of nature. At eight in the morning, the great trees stand rooted in silence so absolute that one's inmost self comes to rest. An aged silence. The grandmother of silences. I find the silence even more remarkable than the trees.
Suddenly, from behind the rim of the moon in long slow-motion movements of immense majesty, there emerges a sparkling blue and white jewel, a light, delicate sky blue sphere laced with slowly swirling veils of white rising gradually like a small pearl in a thick sea of black mystery. It takes more than a moment to fully realize that this is the Earth -- home.
We do not own the earth.
Walk gently upon it, so that
future generations may do the same.
The best reflections are there
when the wind, water, and you
are quite still.
Walk cheerfully and gently over the earth answering to that of God in everyone and everything.
I am here upon this Earth
To reclaim the Earth
To turn the desert into Paradise
A Paradise most suitable unto God
And every creature to dwell thereon.
You never enjoy the world aright,
Till the sea itself flows in your veins,
Till you are clothed with the stars.
All life is our of Thee,
And Thy life is Thy blissful Unity
There are occasions when you can hear the mysterious language of the Earth, in water, or coming through the trees, emanating from the mosses, seeping through the undercurrents of the soil; but you have to be silent, willing to wait and receive.
We might sometimes reflect and recall that the purpose of all our science, technology, industry, manufacturing, commerce, and finance is celebration, planetary celebration. That is what moves the stars through the heavens and the earth through its seasons. The final norm of judgment concerning the success or failure of our technologies is the extent to which they enable us to participate more fully in this grand festival.
Confronting our own silences, and listening to ourselves, eventually moves us toward listening to other, previously unheard silences. To the silences in many who have had to quiet the expressive parts of themselves. To the silences of children, too often "shushed" as having nothing to contribute. To the silences of Earth, in its land and air and water, so often in pain where we have abused it, as well as to the faulty systems, structures, and customs that reinforce such troubling silence. As our listening deepens, we inevitably touch the Center of all stillness. In the midst of all the silences, we become able to hear the quiet Presence of the One who loves us, cherishes us, needs us... We meet the Holy Mystery whose listening to us is the primordial power, hearing us into speech.
To see every woman and every man as sister and brother is to participate in the faith vision of the mystic, whose central intuition is a graced effect of contemplation, which gradually transforms our way of seeing reality. This mystical vision is far from an esoteric or "misty" dream, for surely the survival of our planet depends on a universal realization of this unity and the interconnectedness of all peoples and of all the cosmos, in the one Love which is God.
There is always music amongst the trees in the garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it.
Essentially neuter, silence, like light or love, requires a medium to give it meaning, takes on the color of its host, adapts easily to our fears and needs. Quite apart from whether we seek or shun it, silences orchestrate the music of our days... If it's true that all symphonies end in silence, it's equally true that they begin there as well. Silence, after all, both buries and births us, and just as life without the counterweight of mortality would mean nothing, so silence alone, by offering itself as the eternal Other, makes music possible.
Music is, and always will be, a method used by beings to bring about a unity between different vibrations, causing a harmonious note to the ear. In mystical fashion, one endeavors to achieve the same result with our intermingling vibrations of polarity. The thread, which binds in harmony, is the "music of the spheres." Its song plays continuously, but our ears cannot hear, unless our soul is tuned in.
Driving home on a rainy day, Lorna was rear-ended by a truck just before the woman playing Rosina in Act I of the Barber of Seville was to sing. The impact was sudden and stunning. "But even as I entered a world of shock and pain, I found a world of bliss and order. I listened to the aria and fifteen minutes of the opera as firemen tried to free me from the wreckage of my car." Though told she had been unconscious until she was in the ambulance, she remembered listening to Rosina's voice throughout the ordeal. "My spirit stayed with my body. The music kept me alive. I was able to listen and stay conscious, alert, and at peace with the music. ... From the beginning of that aria, I knew I had to finish the opera of my life."
I know that we hear God in the silence. And for this reason, it is crucial to avail ourselves of silence. For there is a sound in silence that is the voice of God. There is that divine whisper.
I remember as a boy standing at the side of a gorge watching the swift, shallow water and a girl standing in it up to her knees. Everything was settled and at peace in the sunlight. As I watched the hills began to sing -- I could hear them as an indistinct choir. Then they began to shimmer and dance. It seemed clear that we were linked -- hills and humans -- in a deep, objective way. And this connection made life true, and my usual fears irrelevant.
The universe is a perfect, pulsating, rhythmic mechanism that sings the music of the spheres.
Elected Silence, sing to me
And beat upon my whorled ear,
Pipe me to pastures still and be
The music that I care to hear.
One night we visited camp for devotional songs. One man would start the first line of the song, his companions joining in. Then the women would begin, huddling together under their dark wool, keening their lungs out... It was as if they took a spiritual bath in the music, their troubles washed away with songs as old as the subcontinent. How comforting it must be to pass through life's storms always with the support of the group infusing every action and every thought with one voice extending down through the generations, saying,
"It is all right. We are all here. There is no such thing as alone."
In the next stage of our collective evolution it is the hearts of individuals that will hold the cosmic note of the planet. This note can be recognized as a song being born within the hearts of seekers. It is a quality of joy that is being infused into the world. It is the heartbeat of the world and needs to be heard in our cities and towns.
The world of violins and flutes, of horns and cellos, of fugues, scherzos and gavottes, obeyed laws which were so clear that all music seemed to speak of God. My body was not listening, it was praying. My spirit no longer had bounds, and if tears came to my eyes, I did not feel them running down because they were outside me. I wept with gratitude every time the orchestra began to sing. A world of sounds for a blind man, what sudden grace! The inner world made concrete.
We live in a world of sound
We are sound
We are singers,
born into this world to sing our song
The old language speaks with purity
through the songs of our feelings
Resonating from the core
to fill the vastness of our being.
One day when Francis was walking in the woods, he was so filled with delight at the beauty of the world that he wished to express his gratitude with music. He had no violin, so he picked up two sticks and began to play. Birds sang and animals came out and danced. Far-fetched, you say? Perhaps only those who believe that animals dance can hear the violin music of two twigs.
Music is a part of life, not separate from it; and life itself is musical with its rhythms, variations of themes, episodes, fugues, counterpoints, consonances and dissonances, cadences, silences, and tonalities. When we listen to music, we are contemplating the very structures and colors that make up our own lives. The music we play mirrors the music we live.
Like laughter, music can help put us into NOW like nothing else can. And it can ennoble and lift up the NOW to where it belongs -- to the sublime. The beat, the rhythm, the measured time that is transparent in every fine musical work speaks to the subconscious rhythm of our very souls. Music as a part of a prayer-walking experience can hold wonders for us ... and these wonders just ARE.
I slept and dreamt that life was joy
I woke and saw that life was service
I acted and behold! Service was joy.
If our lives are too busy, even though it is what we see as worthwhile work, it is simply an excuse, an escape from God. God, and many of us spend a lifetime avoiding it. We need time that is set apart just to get to know God. ... It is time in silence for listening. And eventually it becomes a time when we are continually aware of God's presence. As the clutter is moved out of lives, we gradually begin to realize that there is no longer a separation between the sacred and profane, for all is holy, all is sacred. Work no longer an escape, since all is filled with God's presence.
A vision without a task
might be a mirage
A task without a vision
can be drudgery
But a vision with a task
brings hope to the world.
If, as we work, we can transmit life into our work,
life, still more life, rushes into us to compensate, to be ready
and we ripple with life through the days.
Even if it is a woman making an apple dumpling,
or a man, a stool,
if life goes into the pudding, good is the pudding,
good is the stool,
content is the woman, with fresh life rippling in to her,
content is the man.
May we learn to unite the stress of our labors and the re-creation of our leisure into a kind of restful sacred work!
ORGANIC is a word I'll stick by. It means the work is an extension of your blood and body; it has the rhythm of nature. This is something artists don't talk about much and it's not even well understood: the fact that there exists a state of feeling and that when you reach it, when you hit it, you can't go wrong.
Infinite silence is the mind of God. It is a mind that can create anything out of the field of pure potentiality. Infinite silence contains infinite dynamism. Practice silence and you will acquire silent knowledge. In this silent knowledge is a computing system that is far more precise and far more accurate and far more powerful than anything that is contained in the boundaries of rational thought.
The idea of worship in work was at once a doctrine and a daily discipline. The ideal was variously expressed that secular achievements should be as "free from error" as conduct, that manual labor was a type of religious ritual, that godliness should illuminate life at every point.
Watching these people and the way they interacted with each other, I could not help but be impressed. But there was another feeling, difficult to define. Was I possibly jealous of this Quechua family? There was no denying that I who had never known poverty or hunger felt, if not jealous, at least envy for their ability to enjoy so completely each other, their work, the meager food and homes they shared, and all that was around them. I had learned that Andean Indians often talk to nature. It is not uncommon to hear a man or woman murmur words of greeting to a bird, flower, or cloud. Such things are a part of their lives and the source of immense pleasure. Was it possible that these people knew something I did not understand? Could I learn from the Quechua what my own culture and background had failed to teach?
Most of us put a great deal of times into work, not only because we have to work so many hours to make a living, but because work is central to the soul's OPUS. We are crafting ourselves -- individuating. Work is fundamental to the OPUS because the whole point of life is the fabrication of the soul.
The work comes to the artist and says, "Here I am, serve me." The artist must be obedient to the work.
I believe that works that touch the Divine or teach us or are still with us centuries after their creation are the ones that did not come out of a place of power or control or techniques, but came at the moment when the heart let go and God answered the question.
Even if your current job does not reflect your dreams and ultimate direction, you can find ways of expressing more of your special qualities while you are looking for your next step forward. If you are committed to expressing your spiritual purpose through your day-to-day activities, then your work will automatically become more satisfying. Think about your current position in life and ask yourself:
How can I best serve others and my own higher purpose through my work? How can my current work become more fulfilling? How can I bring more healing into the world?
Many people who are secretly weary of work have never given themselves time, or taken time out or away from work, to allow their spirits to catch up. Giving yourself plenty of time is a simple but vital reflective exercise:
Leave all agendas behind you. Let the neglected presence of your soul come to meet and engage you again. It can be a lovely reacquaintance with your forgotten mystery.
The silence of the spheres is the music of a wedding feast. The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena of life, the more we analyze them out into strange finalities and complex purposes of our own, the more we involve ourselves in sadness, absurdity and despair. But it does not matter much, because no despair of ours can alter the reality of things, or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there.
Even on the foggiest nights.
Somewhere downstairs a door slammed, and my father entered the house laughing. Instantly, the whole universe joined in. Great roars of hilarity sounded from sun to sun. Field mice uttered, and so did angels and rainbows. Laughter leavened every atom and every star until I saw a universe inspirited and spiraled by joy, not unlike the one I read of years later when Dante describes his great vision in paradise.
"D'el riso d'el universo." (The joy that spins the universe). This was a knowledge of the way everything worked. It worked through love and joy and the utter interpenetration and union of everything with the All That Is.
Joy is the perception of beauty, unlike happiness, which is because of something. Joy is singing of the heart, a feeling of praise.
Why has this Frenchman from France written his book in the United States to present to his friends today? Because loving the country and wanting to show his gratitude, he could find no better way of expressing it than in these two truths, intimately known to him [Jacques is blind] and reaching beyond all boundaries.
The first of these is that joy does not come from outside, for whatever happens to us it is within. The second truth is that light does not come to us from without; Light is in us, even if we have no eyes.
The way toward individuality is deceptively simple. When suffering is felt, it is time to move, to do something. Moving means moving out of the fixed patterns of habit. ...It is quite possible to feel joy while finding that the outer life is in many ways more difficult, more trying than was lived before. The bodily sensation that tells us that we are at least moving toward the sense of individuality is joy. Nothing given from the outside can bring joy; it may bring pleasure, but not joy. We are always surprised by joy because this is living from the time current from the future and there are no concepts for joy.
People say that what we're all seeking in life is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think we're seeking the rapture, the joy, of being alive.
Cultivate seeds of joy!
All the ingredients
To turn your life into a nightmare --
Don't mix them!
You carry all the ingredients
To turn your existence into joy,
The sky of my being is dark and still,
But deep within my heart
The bird of faith stirs, awakens,
And begins a song of joyous anticipation,
Until at last,
Beyond the horizon of my mind,
The Self's own Light breaks forth,
Illumining me with joy.
The smile of the contemplative in the presence of the Beloved is merely a physical expression of the total joy one perceives as one communes with God. St. Bernard used to say, "The joy of being in love is in the very loving." In other words, joy is not to be sought for itself, but is a by-product of love, and the smile is but the physical, exterior expression of the inner joy-love.
Several years ago I realized the profound impact that joy had in my life by experiencing the lack of it. I did not know that I was "joyless" until I sought the answer to a ridiculous turn of events where everything seemed to be out of kilter. During a very specific time frame the car broke down, the lawn mower fell apart, the clothes dryer died, the TV went on the blink, and my business affairs were like a soap opera. When I finally stopped to go into the silence within and ask, I heard the answer:
"Your joy vibration is practically nonexistent, and joy is the energy and the catalyst for order and harmony. Without joy all forms held in consciousness begin to disintegrate."
Joy is made full through the act of abiding in the Presence. When we are consciously aware of the Presence of the divine consciousness, we become in tune with the Energy of Joy, because the song of the soul is joy.
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.
Joy has the power to open our hearts, remove fear, instill hope and foster healing. Joy leads us to wisdom because it connects us to all we are -- our mind, heart, power, and spirit. Joy stimulates our immune system, increases our energy, and gives us mental clarity. It helps us heighten our level of consciousness so we can more readily tap our inner wisdom. Instead of agonizing over decisions, we become more able to simply listen within and KNOW what to do.
Sitting there in silence, listening to the quiet, I was filled with a unique feeling of peace, an impression so intense that it seemed to expand into ineffable JOY. ...It went on, second after second, so pervasive that it seemed to fill my entire body. I relaxed into it luxuriated in it. Then with no warning, and surely without preparation or expectation, I knew what it was: for the seconds it lasted I felt, with a certainty I cannot account for, a sense of the presence of God.
and the grass grows by itself.
I found myself in a miniature inlet. An intense tranquility covered the scene. And yet -- within the tranquility, the lake and hills were burning with spiritual energy. The silence was almost palpable; still, the silence had a sound of its own, like a subterranean waterfall. I felt as if I had stepped back a million years in time; but the energy I felt was electric and immediate. ... The very wildness of the wilderness generates a spiritual field that connects us with the source from which all life evolved. To go into the wilderness, we must undertake a journey that purifies our senses and prepares us for the subtle lessons that the wilderness has to teach us.
Ask the animals and they will teach you, or the birds of the air and they will tell you; or speak to the earth and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of these does not know the hand of God?
If each of us opens the depths of our hearts to the Mystery of God in the concrete events of life, and then -- in freedom -- decides for the good, then fecundity of cosmos and nature will proceed from this very personal act. For Hildegard the human being -- body and soul -- is a microcosm of the great cosmos and is meant to be a creative member of the circle of life on this precious earth. Each personal decision affects all of us. It can contribute either to the healing of the planet or to a further shriveling up in separation, hopelessness, fear, and pollution. We are responsible not only to God and to each other but also to the elements.
Responsible people are beginning to realize that the earth is an awesome mystery, ultimately as fragile as we are ourselves. ...That being so, there is need to be sensitive to the earth, for the earth identifies with our own suffering, exploitation of the earth is exploitation of the human, elimination of the aesthetic splendors of the earth is the diminishment of all existence.
As you see the world as part of yourself
you will care for it;
As you see yourself as part of the world
you will be cared for.
When alone with your thoughts,
listen and hear the Silence.
Listen and see the Silence.
Listen and taste the Silence.
Close your eyes and feel the Silence
Let the woodlands become your chapel --
your body the altar.
In the Silence, as you begin to
communicate with the Creator,
Gardening can provide an opportunity to slow down, be still, breathe, and connect with another form of life. For me, it is an experience of communion; I become one with this precious life in my garden, and it heightens my experience of love in the world. And that is what spirituality is all about: growing in love.
Every human being has an obligation to return to this planet and to all its creatures the sound of beauty, the power of prayer, the sense of harmony. In O PIONEERS!, Willa Cather reminds us of our need to believe in the good soil of our lives, to do what we can to wake it up and then to wait.
"The land had its little joke. It pretended to be poor because nobody knew how to work it right; and then all at once it worked itself. It woke up out of its sleep and stretched itself and it was so big, so rich, that we suddenly found we were rich, just from sitting still."
We can learn the same lesson from sitting still with the land of the heart. It, too, has its little jokes. We think it is poor soil because we don't know how to work it. When we learn to do our inner work, it will wake up and work itself. All we need is a PATIENT WAITING and a TENDER ABIDING.
People talk about the silence of nature, but of course there is no such thing. What they mean is that OUR voices are still, OUR noises are absent.
When I had my breakfast I would leave the door open in the summer and the birds would come right inside and pick up the crumbs around my feet. They had no fear of me at all. These birds also brought their families when ready. I later found out that this bird trust was because of my silence. Once I spoke to them, all went like the wind, and I praised God for such trust. Providing I remained silent they had no fear of me and I learned a great deal about their ways.
Every person has a share in this world and a share in the world to come. We understand the concept of a share in the world to come, but what does it mean having a share in this world? Open your hearts. Having a share in this world means I know exactly what I have to do in this world. This is a very high level. If I know that if I don't do it, it just won't happen. Then I've just got to do it. This is my share in this world.
The saints were not people with the greatest education or even the largest results. But they did have a couple traits in common which were almost invisible: ehat they SAID correlated almost one hundred percent with what they WERE and what they DID. An amazing and invisible power may be released when a person's words and inner self finally match.
Work is more than work. Work is a way of creating and contributing; It is giving to the world; it is sacramental, because It is serving. It is a yielding up and a showing, WHATEVER it is you did — The best-made bed, the best-written book, the best piece of pottery you had within you. It is good for the psyche and good for the soul.
If your still alive your mission on earth is not yet complete. People are happiest when they are so completely engrossed in an activity that they lose track of time and go into what is called a flow state. For this to occur, the activity must be reasonably challenging, neither too easy or too hard. It must be something that is of value to others, and it must be something that you love, that you can be passionate about. Your passion for your work will get you out of bed and into the workplace' even when you don't really feel like it, even when you are discouraged about your progress.
Whatever we do for the love of God benefits our souls and our lives in a way that ego-motivated actions never can. Whatever we do for the love of God is done with sincerity because it is not motivated by self-interest. We leave our concern for gain and loss, success and failure, in the hands of God. We stop considering ourselves as the sole cause of our actions and their results. Consequently, we become the instruments of a deep wisdom and love.
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to others, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for them whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no brief candle for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.
Much of our work is invisible and intangible. You cannot measure it by human means; and sometimes a period of silent reflection will accomplish more good than if the time had been spent in outward activity. Our work is immaterial where we are and what we do; the thing that matters is who we are and what we intend. Constant preoccupation with exterior work handicaps our knowledge of ourselves and of our intentions.
Everything faded -- beside
The light which bathed and warmed, the Presence
Your being had opened to. Where it shone,
Their life was, and abundantly; it touched
Your dullest task and the tasks were easy.
You "'practiced the presence of God" as a Musician
Practices hour after hour his art:
"A stone before the carver,"
You "entered into yourself."
"The book is done then. I guess we're finished."
"No, son, we're not finished. We just don't need us a book anymore. You can just come and visit anyway. I might go to see your family too. I hear there's a good fishing your way. We did this book just like we said we would. We did our best. I don't care if nothing else happens with it or if somebody was to print a hundred copies. I'll have my own copy and I can read now."
"You've accomplished a lot."
"That's right. Yet judge me not for the deeds I've done. But for the life I've lived. Son, people think one hundred years is a long time. Most folks just don't understand. My life hasn't been as long at all; seems short to me. It's all gone by so fast. Life is so good and it gets better every day."
Work is not always required. There is such a thing as sacred idleness.
Consciousness individually and collectively shapes our material world. Our interior life constantly shapes our exterior life. This is why no matter how diverse our work in the external world, the "common work" of humanity —the only true way we can live our external lives — requires becoming conscious of the relationship between our inner and outer lives.
It so happens that the work which is likely to be our most durable monument, and to convey some knowledge of us to the most remote posterity, is a work of bare utility; not a shrine, not a fortress, not a palace, but a bridge.
To keep our feet on the ground is to find wholeness in our lives. We bring spirit down in the world of soul to be embodied, to work, to be of benefit. At the same times we go the other way, too, bringing world up toward spirit, ennobling the kitchen and the freeway. Integrity is active, a practice concerned with motion, connection, and struggle. It does not just go by the rules. In the great silence, integrity listens for the true course. This means that integrity is slow. It allows us to feel the anxiety of events developing, finding their shape; it does not rush through the time of growth, and enjoys the moment before the task is complete.
The separate parts of humanity are coming together to form a whole that is greater than and unpredictable from the sum of its parts. Synergy feels like love, loving one another as ourselves. We are, in fact, one body! Our capacities as a whole are infinitely greater than we we are separate tribes and nations. Once our consciousness shifts from feeling separated to knowing that we are all members of one body, our vast technological genius begins to serve the growth of ourselves as one planet. And that consciousness shift an happen in the twinkling of an eye. Once our consciousness shifts collectively, we can restore the Earth, we can feed all peoples, we can emancipate unique potential We can!
Your heart is a seed.
Go. Plant it in the world.
May the harmony of sky and water,
leaf and rock,
Nourish the creation and growth
of your inner being.
The unique saga of the whooping crane's struggle to survive as a species reminds us of how wonderful and precious are all God's creatures. In its fragility and its numinosity the whooper provides a needed symbol for a spirituality of creation that rekindles human reverence for the mysterious presence of God dwelling deep down within the beauty and splendor of all that lives.
A week of silence had tipped the balance from the desire for external rewards to the intrinsic value of being. I passed the oak I'd sat on the day before. This was happiness: witting in a tree. Lying in the grass. Feeling the fog or the sunshine touching my skin. Watching a hawk circle. All anbition and seeking had fallen away. Even my desire to cling to the sensations of the moment had dissolved. I only wanted to live my life while it was happening, not enmeshed in the past of all that lives.
Forests and fields, sun and wind and sky, earth and water, all speak the same language: peace, solitude, silence.
Sacred hart in the blackening wilderness
stately deer, gracefully bounding,
holy vision of the Eternal Heart;
countless, unending blood memories,
surge like gold through your rhythmic veins,
ancient paths stir the soul's journey.
Sleeping titans stand on the edge,
disregarding the dark, grasping webs of life,
or silver antlers shining with white wisdom,
of pulsating pearls of poetry flowing
from open eyes of song,
as the saintly sculpture disappears
from its vanishing home into
a dying paradise.
Diving Love and Light are the mirrors of silence in which all of creation is reflected. Be still and know.
Silently a flower blooms,
In silence it falls away;
Yet here now, at this moment, at this place,
The world of the flower,
the whole of the world is blooming.
This is the talk of the flower,
the truth of the blossom;
The glory of eternal life is fully shining here.
When one views the planet Earth from outer space and sees no national boundaries, the prophecy of Teilhard de Chardin is compelling:
The age of nations is past. That task before us, if we would not perish, is to build the earth ... to help hear her wounds.
I just love silence. I love lying quietly in the afternoon with the sun streaming in through the windows of my cabin. Just being very quiet. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, when I climb the hill up to the cabin, I stop and either throw myself down on the ground or look up to the stars and say, "This is fabulous. I am so happy, happy, happy that I am doing this. It's so nice to live close to the earth." I just love silence.
Colin Fletcher, in THE MAN WHO WALKED THROUGH TIME, describes how from moments of peak awareness, there came at last after long solitude and silence, and for the time being, a continuous sense of being one with the rhythm of all life and all time, of being inside as well as outside the life of everything he saw – animals, insects, the living rocks, the wind, the river; and finally, most difficult of all, he could feel even the craziness of modern humanity as part of the unbroken pattern of eternity.
Help us to be always helpful gardeners of the spirit who know that without the darkness nothing comes to birth, as without light nothing flowers.
In our world, we need a clear awareness of the inter-dependent nature of nations, of humans, animals, and the world. Everything is of interdependent nature. I feel that many problems, especially man-made problems, are due to lack of knowledge about this interdependent nature.
Each of us has the responsibility to protect sacred land and life in every country of the world, in whatever way he or she can. We must remember that lightning and wind are not controlled by human boundaries. A sacred breath unifies the divine web of life. Any part that is broken affects us all. May you walk in balance.
My hope is that all children will become earth literate. That they will experience no separation of spirit and matter! That they will come to know the Story of the Universe as theor story! That they will have a deep sense of being a unique expression of the universe and that they are the universe celebrating itself in their songs, dances, and rituals! Finally, I hope that they realize they have a purpose to fulfill and that they are a gift for the whole web of life!
My spiritual heritage included the weekly hymn by P. P. Bliss which continues to come to mind:
Sing them over again to me,
Wonderful words of Life.
Let me more of their beauty see,
Wonderful words of Life.
Words of Life and Beauty
Teach me faith and duty:
Beautiful words, wonderful words,
Wonderful words of Life.
The mystery of the voice and its potent transformative sounds may be experienced int he wonderful words of life, the tuning and vibration of the sacred breath, and the roaring silence of internal thought.
Silence for me is music.
Become the music you long to sing: the beautiful song of your soul.
Nadia Boulanger once described a Menuhin recital: He gave a number of encores, and the last was the slow movement of Brahm's Sonata in D minor. What happened then was part of an indescribable completeness. The whole house found itself in the grip of the same mute emotion, which created silence of an extraordinary quality. Everyone understood, felt, participated in what he himself must have been feeling." Menuhin has always possessed this quality. Even as a child, his playing had an innate innocence (which is still intact) that made Einstein declare that, hearing him play, he knew there was a God.
One of the things he liked most about the hermitage was the silence. "Silence is my music now." He could pick up the small sounds of insects and animals. Sometimes when the wind was strong, it blew the sound of the traffic to him. He liked to think of all the people going on with their lives and to think of himself as in a sense staying where he was for their sakes, "like a lighthouse keeper."
The rock vibrates, the air is riven
Like ripe fruit splayed on a summer's day
The bird's song is used to call a mate,
Warn of danger, find a nest...
If you listen you will hear our
Universal music on the street, in the air.
It is not the splitting of reeds,
The thrumming of strings,
The thrusting of air, or tambour of skins.
It is the passion and yearning to fully
become that which we already are.
To reach out and express...
to become connected and more whole.
Erase the din of noise and hear the music.
It is all around.
There is a divine music called the silence of the Spirit.
The abbot said: "Let it come through you like something that doesn't belong to you."
The formless, what is that? As a pianist, I can best begin to understand through the study of piano music: notes on a page, each one to be taken hold of by the fingers and made to sing. One learns to listen, to seek the composer's intention, to try to recapture the tempo; to give attention to every note, however small, and to love each silence... Music is a transmission from one person to another, a deepening of understanding, and an awakening to the sense of beauty and order which lives deep inside us.
To listen to music or to sing a chant is to do something that has no practical purpose; it is just celebration and praise; it is just tasting the joy and beauty of life, the glory of God. Listening to it, even in the midst of a very purposeful day, reminds us to add the other dimension to our experience, the dimension of meaning, that makes it all worthwhile.
Once a visiting musician said to me in an empty auditorium, "Play, and listen to the silence between the notes. The silence between the notes is as important as the music itself." Enhanced by the emptiness, the sound of my flute soared over the space and sang back from the far wall. But the sílences where I paused to breathe were even more lovely and articulate, creating a wholeness I had not perceived before. The silence shaped itself to the voice of the flute. The loveliness of the music depended upon my saying "yes" to the silence between my notes.
stringing and unstringing
While the song I came to sing
Listen for the special music,
the song nobody else can sing
Music is a DISCIPLINED feeling, sound given form and pattern through number and rhythm – the single sound of the universe bringing consciousness through incarnation in music to the inner ear of the soul . As a woman, it is the masculine creative spirit within, who brings me the sound of the music of God – unlike man, who hears it through the numinous feminine within. God's music unites all.
Birds inspire and uplift us with their carols... In the muslc of both birds and humans, beauty is "the wine which overflows." When the last lark has fallen silent, something holy will have vanished from the world. The chorus of life will be muted. The cathedral of the earth will have lost its choir.
God is absorbed in work, and hears
the spacious hum of bees, not the din,
and hears far-off
our screams. Perhaps
God listens for prayers in that wild solitude.
And hurries on with weaving:
till it's done, the garment woven,
our voices, clear under the familiar
blocked-out clamor of the task,
can't stop their
terrible beseeching. God
imagines it sifting through, at last, to music
in the astounded quietness, the loom idle,
the weaver at rest.
May the work you do make your heart sing,
and my the vocation you choose be LOVE.
Rules for an icon painter: During work, pray in order to strengthen yourself physically and spiritually; avoid, above all, useless words, and keep silence.
Sandy and Ginny knew what they wanted to create for their neighborhood. They started with three goals: to make a safe place for everyone; to offer nourishing meals affordable to all people; to offer job training and work experience.
"We talked to a lot of people, but I was struck that one of our future customers said: 'Create a place where I can barter my labor instead of my soul.'"
Good work is really all about love's way
This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was important Work to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did. Somebody was angry about that, because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.
No two hearts are on fire with God in the same way. We are all called to live this vibrant love of God in our own way, according to our own personality and temperament. In life's ups and downs, at times we will wonder if any fire remains in us. Because of our inner battles, we will at times resist the fire or fear its power. Yet, within us all, the fire of God continues to flicker even though we may not see its glow.
How do we keep the love of God aflame in us? We must stay close to the original flame of love, and draw near to the heat of God through daily prayer and through a continual yearning to be one with the divine presence. Each time we intentionally draw near to God, we light a candle in our heart.
Barriers are sundered, fetters are melted
By the Divine Fire,
And the eternal dawn of a new life rises
In all, and all in One.
There is a realization taking place within me, as my eyes reach out through the skylight, that the deeper I go in prayer the farther out I go in the cosmos. Inner and outer are one. The mystics understood this as they went deeper into the inner experience of God. They experienced a harmonization of their lives with the greater rhythms of existence. They knew by faith what science knows empirically, that the universe is charged with the presence and reality of the Divine. These mystics allowed the fire of contemplation to transform them into a union of love with all creation. They understood that Divine Radiance floods the universe making all things holy.
Remain vigilant! Tend the flame, the Divine Spark,
that nurtures and guides your way!
Not for drugery or duty do you awaken;
rather to delight: to dance and play within creation's wonders.
Enlightened sould know the joy and power of humble service
offered freely, lovingly, and in harmony with the universal Song.
When the flame shines brightly,
who remembers the darkness?
Even in lonely moments, remember to be mindful;
you are never alone.
While on the shop and street I gazed
My body of a sudden blazed
And twenty minutes more or less
It seemed, so great my happiness
That I was blessed, and could bless.
Whether your destiny is glory or disgrace,
Purify yourself of hatre and love of self.
Polish your mirror, and that sublime Beauty
From the regions of mystery
Will flame out in your heart
As it did for the saints and prophets.
Then, with your heart on fire with that Splendor
The secret of the Beloved will no longer be hidden.
The story of the mystics is one of an all-consuming, passionate love affair between human beings and God. It speaks of deep yearning, of burning desire for the contemplation and presence of the divine beloved. Mystics seek participation in divine life, union, and communion with God. Their desire is kindled by the fire of divine love itself, which moves the mystics in their search and leads them, often on arduous journeys, to discover and proclaim the all-encompassing love of God for humankind.
If we are in any way to solve the problems of our day, we must rely on the power of Another, not on our own power. It manifests itself in the human heart as a blind stirring of love, as a living flame of love. Sometimes, this inner fire drives people into solitude where they intercede for humanity and unleash a power which shakes the universe. But the same inner fire drives others into the midst of action with a passionate love for justice and a willingness to die for their convictions.
If we don't know in the depths of our being that God calls us "beloved," we need to. And if we do know it, and it hasn't set us on fire, then we don't know it well enough. Take time daily to be alone and silent before God. And an awareness of your utter belovedness will become a reality for you.
We as a people are only now beginning to learn to read the language of the earth once more. We are beginning to see what our actions create. Since the beginning there have been those who have listened to the earth's song. We are a note in the discord or the harmony of this world. The way we walk is the way it becomes. Speak in anger and anger will come to you, speak with caring and love and these too shall be drawn to you. Our choices in action are sacred. To choose to work our way through our emotions and actions in a good way can be a most sacred act. Each action affects all others.
In all of nature there can be nothing more expressive than silence.
In the Middle Ages saunterers were considered saint de terre as they wandered the countryside.
The earth is not a mere fragment of dead history, a stratum upon stratum like the leaves of a book, to be studied by biologists and antiquarians chiefly, but living poetry like the leaves of a tree, which precede flowers and fruit — not a fossil earth but a living earth.
All universal truths are available to us. All universal knowledge. Nothing is withheld. Our soul has a limitless capacity to enfold and know all. This is part of the dynamic of the soul. We are faced with the job of healing the planet, healing it from the multitude of messes we have created. The only way this can happen is for people to change their attitudes toward nature As we each open to the broader reality of nature, our attitudes will automatically shift, and how we treat our immediate environment will alter to accommodate those shifts in attitude. We will live our lives differently. We will have different motivations for what we do. We will become active co-creative partners in life. We will behave as if the God of ALL life mattered.
Sunset in the ethereal waves:
I cannot tell if the day
is ending, or the world, or if
the secret of secrets is inside me again.
You set before me the book of Nature; and I understood how all the flowers created by You are beautiful, how the splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not lessen the perfume of the little violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all flowers wanted to be roses, Nature would lose her springtime beauty, and the fields would no longer be decked out with little wild flowers... It is the same in the world of souls, Your living garden.
The old tree of eternal creative life lives
with an open heart, very deep roots,
and many branches witing to
transform into new life.
What did you find in the fields today,
you who have wandered so far away?
I found a wind-flower, small and frail,
and a crocus cup like a holy grail;
I found a hill that was clad in gorse,
a new-built nest, and a streamlet's source;
I saw a star and a moonlit tree;
I listened... I think God spoke to me.
The three months of solitude were of the greatest significance for me. I came away from them very much strengthened — ready to share my insights with people who were interested in hearing them. Still today, I have the sounds of the jungle in my ears: the cries of the monkeys and birds and the wind rushing through the banana leaves. But there were also times of utter silence, at dawn and twilight. I took walks in the jungle in order to look at nature as a part of myself.
How glorious is Your dwelling place,
O Loving Creator of the universe!
The solitary globe of night
pours out its calm and clear light
in the midst of the silence and
contemplation of nature.
In the early evening we see the stars begin to appear as the sun disappears over the horizon. The light of day gives way to the darkness of night. A stillness, a healing quiet comes over the landscape. It's a moment when some other world makes itself known, a numinous presence beyond human understanding. We experience the vast realms of space overwhelming the limitations of our human minds. As the sky turns golden and the clouds reflect the blazing colors of evening, we participate for a moment in the forgiveness, the peace, the intimacy of things with each other.
May your life be filled with sacred songs!
May the Great Conductor lead you on ...
They sang a capella: one voice began to mount like a skylark and detach itself from the rest, from those mingled voices which together sounded well, but from whose conjunction with this single one soared in an intensity of beauty — a voice so clear and just, yet vibrant with such warm sweetness, I have remembered it always. The fact that this great, this glorious and rare voice was singing behind bars, that the face and identity of this singing nun would forever be unknown to us, shadowed the music. Mainly, we were awed to think this treasure was so hidden.
I can't think of any way to explain the existence of art other than as a means to express something greater than ourselves. I can't reach a single musícal decision except wíth the goal of making a connectíon to God. If I separated the religious goal from the musical one, music would have no meaning for me.
In that nocturnal tranquility and silence and in knowledge of the divine light, the soul becomes aware of Wisdom's wonderful harmony and sequence in the variety of her creatures and works. Each of them is endowed wíth a certain likeness of God and in its own way gives voice to what of God is in it. So creatures will be for the soul a harmonious symphony of sublime music surpassing all concerts and melodies of the world. Thus there ís in it the sweetness of music and the quietude of silence. AccordÍngly, she says that her Beloved is silent music because in the Beloved she knows and enjoys this symphony of spiritual music.
The poet, the artist, the musician, continue the quiet work of centuries, building bridges of experience between people, reminding us of the universality of our feelings and desires and despairs, and reminding us that the forces that unite are deeper than those that divide.
Each of us is a new creation, a singularity, a facet of the glory of God, Love's presence made visible. "The greatest glory of God is a person fully alive." Everything in creation has íts own language, its own radiance, its gift to the universe. Dante's music of the spheres, the movement of the planets and stars in their orbíts, is an unrivaled symphony. And I am not a single note, sound, or chord -- I am a symphony of a lífetime. What is the song of my life, the inner music of my being, the background music whích softly accompanies me? Each thing has its own song and each sings it ín silence. What a chorus when each life song is blended into and harmonized with all the others!
The silence of the marsh was so profound that it could have been the flip side of the singing in my church. Just last Sunday the people had sung the old spiritual, "Go Down, Moses," a cappella because the pianist was gone, and a bunch of people were crying, singing very loudly with their eyes closed, and the singing of that cry of a song was a wonderful form of communion. How come you can hear a chord, and then another chord, and then your heart breaks open?
The voice of God whispers in the heart
That the soul pauses,
Making no noise,
And strives for these melodies,
Distant, sighing, like the faintest breath,
And all the being is still to hear.
Song is not a luxury, but a necessary way of being in the world. If you are cut off, in pain, estranged, numb — sing, give voice to anything. It needn't sound pretty. Simply, bravely, open despite the difficulty, and let what is in out, and what is out in. Sing and your life will continue.
It is my heart that makes songs, not I.
Something about a song ia nearly irresistible in that it reaches both the mnd and the heart, the former with meaning, the latter with beauty. The Spírit found her way into my shut-off heart through the songs I learned through that very same heart.
While I was writing about silence and explosíons and the moment, of creation, I made an ínteresting typing error. I wrote "big band"" instead of "big bang." I'd like to think that ít was not an error but the voice of creation typing for me. From now on that's my theory on the origin of everything. Creation began with a big band, and ever since there has been rhythm, style and beauty throughout the uníverse. Our job is to look and listen for the big song, and then to join in, following the beat established by the Conductor leading the big band.
In a sense great music exists for the sake of its pauses; for instance, the pauses that occur in the middle of a Beethoven symphony. These pauses are of course quite unlike bits of ordinary silence, because the whole symphony has led up to them — they are held and defined, and the music goes on the other side of them. Such pauses are silence charged with meaning. Music transcends music by producing charged silence.
In the face of the strain of tasks beyond our strength, we must turn inward to the Source of strength. If we measure our human strength against the work we see immediately ahead, we shall feel hopeless, and if we tackle it in that strength, we shall be frustrated... There is no healthier lesson we can learn than our own limitations, provided this is accompanied by the resignation of our own strength and reliance on the strength of God. The wheel of life will fly apart unless it is spoked to the Center ... wherever we go rushing onward without taking time to turn inward.
Find joy in your work ...
Discover fulfillment and peace ...
Silence will guide you on the way.
Hands to work ...
Heart to God.
The time of busyness does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while serving persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees in prayer.
Moses' motions were like a dancer's ... sliding, circling, turning — his movements finding balance and his eyes finding voice ... a bark of delight when he saw a true shot, a rasp of laughter as he found the right angle, the click of his tongue when he snapped the perfect picture.
And the camera which Novalee had thought old-fashioned and unwieldly, looked small and delicate in Moses' hands, hands that moved in magical ways, fingers that found their own rhythm and knew, without knowing, when is was right.
Spiritual self-esteem is gained from knowing that our work is a contribution and a blessing. Then we perform for the love of God with no thought of personal recognition... When our motivatlon for work is valid, the work will be spontaneous and creative.
To have a firm persuasion in our work -- to feel that what we do is right for ourselves and good for the world at exactly the same time — is one of the great triumphs of human existence... To have a firm persuasion, to set out boldly in our work, is to make a pilgrimage of our labors, to understand that the consummation of work lies not only in what we have done, but who we have become while accomplishing the task... Work, at its best, is one of the great human gateways to the eternal and the timeless.
Our eyes are
the eyes of the universe
reflecting upon itself...
We look at the stars,
they look back at themselves
Lisen to the universe,
stir the deep memory ...
thus do we know
what we are to do.
What is my work?
To let the mind fall silent
that I may hear the Invisible calling.
The earth needs people who can say, "Yes there is more." Not just more in the way of knowledge or inventions or wisdom or revelations, but more compassion, more gentleness and sweetness, more caring, more love, more valuing of one another. That is your mission, and it is of the highest, for it is nothing other that the mission of manifesting the spirit of the Beloved in your life.
When you love to do something, that means you have a gift for it. And when you are gifted at something, you have to do it. You don't have to quit your job and mortgage your house, but you do have to give your gift a careful look. If you don't pay attention to what you love, you could overlook your greatest gifts!
How terribly the rice suffers under the pestle!
But it emerges polished, as white as cotton.
The same process tempers the human spirit:
Hard trials shape us into polished diamonds.
Work is not your enemy but your friend. How you work, not what you do, determines the course of your life. You may work grudgingly or you may work gratefully; you may work as a human or you may work as a robot. There is no work so rude that you may not exalt in it; no work so demeaning that you cannot breathe soul into it; no work so dull that you may not enliven it. Never be tempted to diminish your efforts; always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.
We work not only to produce ...
we work to give value to time.
The changing of work into play is effected as a consequence of the presence of a "zone of perpetual silence," where one draws from a sort of secret and intimate respiration, whose sweetness and freshness accomplishes the anointing of work and transforms it into play. For the "zone of silence" not only dignifies the soul at rest; there is contact with the heavenly or spiritual world, which works together with the soul. Those who find silence in the solitude of meditation without effort are never alone.
It is not an easy task, but a most rewarding one, to bless the marketplace with a contemplative presence. It seems to me that the life of work and prayer is not only possible, but greatly enhanced by standing firm in the real world with one's being anchored solidly in the Ultimate Reality. It is the harmony of the universe that echoes in the heart of the "new monk" who works and prays, lives and loves, re-creates and recreates in the center of the present world. The mystical monastery is the whole of society; the marketplace is one of its cloisters. The Holy Rule of the New Monk is the solid perspective of the spiritual practice embraced.
I experience the Divine Presence in many ways, but the form most often available to me is "spiration," or the act of breathing in which the Spirit often manifests itself and communicates itself. This process has given rise to the experience of inspiration, or in-spiration, in which the Spirit breathes into us. To be aware of God through spiration is to become conscious of God's subtle Presence through our own breathing.
We all share in the eternal spiration of the Spirit. When I am sufficiently absorbed in the experience of divine spiration, I realize inwardly my dependence, and that of all beings, on this subtle action of the Source.
Dolphins can live in the deepest water without danger because they regularly come to the surface and breathe in air that sustains them. We, too, must rise in prayer into the spiritual realm. To pray is to breathe in God's life-giving spirit that gives life and peace, even in this world.
As we breathe out what trees breathe in,
And the trees breathe out what we breathe in,
So we breathe each other into life, We and You.
Those who assent to higher laws enter a new sphere of life marked by utter unpredictability, a way of being in which one becomes, if and when one remains alerts, a living weather vane responding minute-by-minute to the breath of the Spirit. . . As soon as we turn, even for a moment, to a deeper understanding of what life demands, of what is asked of us as beings born of earth and heaven, as long as we move, if only for a moment, from the realms of self-calming, self-feeding, and self-adoring into the realm of sacrifice and work for love of God and neighbor, we immediately enter, in potentia, the field of holy folly. Whether this potential is actualized is a decision not ours to make ("not my will, by Thy will be done"). Our job is to listen to the call: that is enough.
Breath deeply amidst the beauties of nature;
absorb vibrations unsullied by
pollution and cosmopolitan ways.
Breathing mindfully brings balance into your life;
strength is gained through the Breath of Life!
Remember: breath is your life's companion!
And, as you limit your breath, you limit life itself.
Befriend silence: a balm to your soul.
As you breathe in silence,
your ear attunes to Spirit.
You will understand the eagle.
Breathe deeply! Breathe life!
I long to slip into cracks of silence
where breath is connected to spirit and
spirit to wind and a sense of oneness
resonates in my core.
What I wear is pants.
What I do is live.
How I pray is breathe...
Up here in the woods is seen the Word.
That is to say, the wind comes through
the trees and you breathe it.
By meditating on the breath and the power within and behind the breath, we realize in the deepest levels of our being that our life is sustained by God. We do not breathe by our own will; God is sustaining our life and everything else in creation... We are born into this world and we will die and live this world. Our first breath and our last breath, the two most important events in our life, are not in our conscious control. Because our breathing is automatic and involuntary, it is easy to forget about the gift of breath — gift of God.
I finished my morning quiet time with an exercise of breathing out resentment, breathing in joy; breathing out anxiety, breathing in peace; breathing out hate, breathing in love, breathing out want, breathing in thanksgiving; breathing out fear, breathing in trust. Then I am ready to start my day.
Breath and attention to breath are keys to self-emptying. Attending to the breath will carry you beyond the distractions of the mind and return you to the Greater Unity of God from which you arise and in which you dwell. Just as God breathed life into Creation, so God breathes into each one of us at this and every moment. Follow the breath back to God.
As I stood with the sun on the summit of the modest mountain peak, the solar orb became a catalyst for my encounter with the Divine. As often appears in myth, the sun became the conveyance for God. It ushered me into the Divine Presence through its powerful symbolic function, its archetypal capacity to represent the one. I was overcome as I stood alone before the Divine. I was seized by the Presence communicated through the sudden appearance of the sun. It carried me into an intense awareness of the Divine's utter reality. I knew then why I had made this journey, and the peace it conveyed remains with me to this day.
Gray are all the theories;
Green is the Tree of Life.
If your heart were pure then all of nature would be a great book of holy wisdom and sacred doctrine.
This is my work,
To keep this world green,
Keep it all green.
I began in the East, to help my friends.
I keep this world green,
Keep it beautiful.
I begin to fill the creeks,
To wet everything,
Keep it beautiful and green,
I begin in the East,
Make everything beautiful!
That is my work.
Those who have eyes to see will discern the message of eternity in the spring breeze when it becomes visible in the roses and herbs: invisible waves of roses, hidden in the breeze, required the medium of the earth to reveal themselves to the material human eye, just as the human beings innate qualities must be revealed by his or her actions. The spirit needs matter in order to become visible; thus every leaf is a messenger from the realm of nonexistene, and talks with its long hands and fresh green tongue of the creative power of God.
Speak to the earth, and it will teach thee.
In the traditional way of life gardens were a ceremonial event for all, an opportunity to give to the Earth as well as to receive. The seeds of good food are also the seeds of good relationship, so caretaking the garden is symbolic of caretaking all beings ... an offering to all.
A down feather as soft as an infant's curl floats earthward and brushes the granite rock by my side. It feels like a message from above, and I wonder what it is telling me. I pick up this angel-wisp and hold it to my cheek. I feel it as a caress, a gentle and loving touch, and I realize that this IS the message — one that transcends words, concepts, and thoughts. It touches my heart and a place of inner knowing. In that moment I am complete, thankful, and fully at peace.
Each creature God made
Must live in its own true nature;
How could I resist my nature,
That lives for oneness with God?
For humankind, a growing gap between our inner selves and outer selves — an imbalance between how we live our lives and how we would like to live them — leaves the spirit thirsting for renewal. For many, renewal and re-creation come with time spent in the natural world. The human spirit and the open landscape are inextricably connected. In feeling the spirit of place, we reconnect with the spirit of self.
For all its silence, the sky has a language. Without any words the stars speak many things right into our hearts. They hand there so silent and radiant — and how one's breast swells at the thought of being able to attain the same purity. At times it seems as if their light is of little benefit. Yet is is by them that we measure hours, days, and years. By them — or at least by the star nearest to us, the sun — we have light and heart, and our existence depends on it.
As I was listening I thought about being in conversation with God, and I was struck by how much this piece of music mirrors my relationship with God. When I first began conversing with God, it was very simple, like the opening of the Fugue. In reply, God did not repeat my melody but responded in a harmonic way, just as Bach's instruments do. Over time, our conversation — the Divine's and mine — has built in richness, complexity, depth and beauty, like the fugue builds. Ebb and flow occur in the dynamics of both the music and my conversation with God, but my soul is constantly stirred by the heatbreaking beauty of what I hear and what I know.
Silence is more musical than any song.
When in our music You are glorified,
and adoration leaves no room for pride,
It is as though the whole creation cries Alleluia!
How often, making music, we have found
a new dimension in the world of sound,
As worship moves us to a more profound Alleluia!
Let every instrument, be tuned for praise!
Let all rejoice who have a voice to raise!
And may You give us faith to sing always Alleluia!
A few girls were taken to a performance of Johannes Brahms' "Requiem." Teak was the youngest to go, and she sat next to Frau professor. Teak had never been to a concert before. The music was so awesome, so profound, so moving and stirring that Teak's eyes filled with unexpected tears, and she was grateful when the old woman put her arm around her shoulder as if she understood. The muscc to Teak was like an opening into what she thought heaven might be like. Brahms came like a thundering revelation.
The fitness of our hearts and thoughts to receive God's spirit is like that of violin strings. If they are properly tuned, in harmony with one another, then the touch of the bow produces beautiful music. If not, then there is only discord. Whenever our hearts are truly ready to receive God's spirit, they will produce heavenly airs and joyous harmonies -- both in this life and in the spiritual world.
If each of the birds in the forest waited until the bird with the most beautiful song could sing, the forest would be silent.
The world is full of implicit religion, and the inspired saints and poets, who say that the birds "praise God" when they sing, are in no way mistaken. Because it is their tiny life itself which sings the "great life" and makes heard, through its countless variations, the same news which is as old as the world and as new as the day: "Life lives and vibrates in me." What homage to the source of life is expressed by these small streams of life: the birds which sing!"
When the violin
Can forgive the past
It starts singing.
When the violin can forgive
Every wound caused by others
The heart starts singing.
When I asked the old man if he believed in the healing power of music, he laughed at first, and then suddenly grew serious. "I forget everything when I play. All my heart goes into the music. If I don't concentrate, the music changes, so it's best to forget all distractions and just play."
"Wake up! SEE!"
Suddenly from where I lay, I did see. I saw that as he shoveled, the coal had a song. Grandfather had a song, even the pickup truck had a song. I saw that Grandfather heard the song and that he shoveled in harmony with it. He was like a symphony conductor. I realized that what I saw was the maximum-efficiency, minimum-effort law he had been teaching me earlier. While I had struggled against myself during the long hospital ceremony, Grandfather had been conducting an orchestra, a ceremonial symphony.
"I see you got it. You see, everything has its song. Find the energy, the song, and merge wíth it. You must seek the harmonic and merge with it."
The interior place where we experience God is the same kind of place and as real as the place here we experience music and poetry.
Music has a divine message and messenger of life. It was quintessentially the "Quickening art" -- quickening my soul with this my body, so that suddenly, spontaneously, I was quickened into motion, my own perceptual and kinetic melody, quickened into life by the inner life of music. I was carried ahead by the ongoing musical stream.
Music is sound AND silence. It is the spaces BETWEEN the notes that create rhythm, melody, and meaning, and the greater the composer -- and the perfornance -- the better the quality of the silence. Legendary pianist Artur Schnabel said that it wasn't the notes but the silences between them he played better than other people. A few seconds more or less at crucial moments in the performance of a piece may mean the difference between a mundane and a transcendent experience.
Warm sun. My worship is a blue sky and 10,000 crickets in the deep wet hay of the field. My vow is the silence under their song. I admire the woodpecker and the dove in simple mathematics of flight. Together we study practical norms. The plowed and planted field is red as brick in the sun and says: "Now is my turn!" Several of us began to sing.
Silently a flower blooms,
In silence it falls away;
Yet here now, at this moment, at this place,
The world of the flow, the whole of
the world is blooming.
This is the talk of the flower,
the truth of the blossom;
The glory of eternal life is fully shining
My daughter, three years old and fearless, loves nothing more than wading along the shallow shoreline outside our house. Holding hands, we walk barefoot upstream quietly in the water, stepping delicately over stones. Besides the water sounds, there is just immense silence. We stop and listen to the water. She asked me for a story; I did not have one. Listening, she turned in delight and announced, "Daddy, this water is talking." In listening to the river a kind of silence prevails, broken only by the rush of water over rocks. Such a silence is more like faint echoes, each a series of dim reverberations. They continue in you, distant yet familiar.
Walking home, I ponder about a love of art and I think about my love of the land back home, about the healing grace of wildness, and how difficult it is to articulate why conservation matters, why wilderness matters to the health of our souls and how a language of the heart becomes suspect. I wonder how it is we have come to this place where art and nature are spoken in terms of what is optional?
I walked through the birches by the river today. Overwhelming! The earth is stripped down to simple designs. The land has become a visual haiku. Sun on the fretwork of twigs. Blood droplets of rose hips clinging to the bushes. The chatter of the creek against trimmings of ice. The skiff of snow. My breath a white cloud like a departing soul... I have always been beguiled by birds. As if there was much they would tell me if they could, but they are only permitted to bear witness with their lives, their song.
The Spirit of God
is a life that bestows life,
root of world-tree
and the wind in its boughs.
Scrubbing out sin,
she rubs oil into wounds.
She is glistening life
alluring all praise,
let Nature be your teacher.
Silence ... And in the west, the ever-setting sun consumed itself, surrounded by its circling sisters, rushing with the speed of light toward the point systems and cosmic galaxies had been fleeing from the beginning, toward darkness and the primordial Fiat. And across the cold ocean of space, audible as the music of the spheres, the defining cry of creation comes. Maranatha!
A walk in nature can help bring about one of the most essential acts a human being can perform: the stilling of the mind. For when the cacophony of disturbances, reactions, and self-talk subsides, like a windswept sea suddenly finding calm, the lens of our lives becomes a still, pure crystalline window for the cosmos to experience itself through... A walk in the natural world, with conscious mindfulness, can help bathe the senses in the implicate ordering of existence. Such a direct and immediate reminder does much to help steer us back to the center of ourselves.
Prayer is listening to the voice of the One who calls you the beloved. It is to constantly go back to the Truth of who we are and claim it for ourselves. I'm not what I do. I'm not what people say about me. I'm not what I have. My life is not rooted in the world, the things the world gives me. My life is rooted in the truth of my spiritual identity. Whatever we do — we have to go back regularly to that place of core identity.
Truth is the only safe ground to stand upon.
These are the three steps of truth. We climb to the first by the toil of humility, to the second by the deep feelings of compassion, and to the third by the ecstasy of contemplation. On the first step we experience the severity of truth, on the second its tenderness, on the third its purity. Reason brings us to the first as we judge ourselves; compassion brings us to the second when we have mercy on others; on the third the purity of truth sweeps us up to the sight of things invisible.
Compassion is an aspect of Divine love that melts all defenses and resistance when anyone's suffering is really seen. There is nothing the personality can do to create compassion, but when we are willing to be completely open and truthful about whatever we are truly feeling, it arises naturally and soothes our hurt. (We could say that truth without compassion is not really truth, and that compassion without truth is not really compassion.) The Divine love that seeks to express itself in the world through us is a powerful force that can break through all of the old barriers and untruths that have accumulated in us.
It is not enough to seek and care; to pay lip service to all manner of ideals. Real witness is what counts. It is something to do with leaps in the dark. Recognizing that Truth is hidden. But transformation towards truth is something else. It is practice and diligence.
I sit for a long time in the absolute silence. All at once, there is barely a perceptible noise, a soft rumble as of thunder. The sound dies without discovery of its nature or source. It returns, seeming to come from all directions at once. At last it emerges from its mystery, grows into a tremulous hum, and solidifies into chanting. The music has no tempo. There is no breathing audible in it. No one voice stands out; it is the fusion of all that produces the effect. Long held notes which at last modulate again and again in the calm rhythm of the heart. I am suspended in the sound. And charged. ... The chanting dies away as gently as it began. Once again there is the unanimous voice of silence.
If the strings of an instrument are always taut, they go out of tune.
Gramma died 25 years after she stopped mothering me. But she left me something special, and I hear it whenever the need occurs. A tune wafts in unexpectedly when I am kneading bread or hanging laundry on the line. The opening phrase of an old hymn bursts from my mouth:
"Are ye able," I suddenly sing out.
"To believe that Spirit triumphs," I can hear Gramma picking up the next line. The verses poses a great question about faith, but I am thinking about what Gramma gave me.
"Lillian," I answer, "thank you for my voice."
Music is the glue that connects many parallel universes that run through your life. I am amazed at how often you can find grace and simplicity in this complex world. Through your talent, perseverance, and faith in the power of music, you have blazed a path for aspiring musicians from all over the globe.
If we do not keep pace with our companions, perhaps it is because we hear a different drummer. Let us step to the music we hear, however measured or far away.
In the concert hall, each motionless listener is part of the performance. The concentration of the player charges the electric tension in the auditorium and returns to the playLIer magnified. I like the fact that "LISTEN" is an anagram of "SILENT". Silence is not something that is there before the music begins and after it stops. It is the essence of the music itself, the vital ingredient that makes it possible for the music to exist at all. It's wonderful when the audience is part of this productive silence.
I'm coming to believe in the importance of silence in music. The power of silence after a phrase of music, for example: the dramatic silence after the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, or the space between the notes of a Miles Davis solo. There is something very specific about a "rest" in music. You take your foot off the pedal and pay attention. I'm wondering as musicians whether the most important thing we do is merely to provide a frame for silence. I'm wondering if silence itself is perhaps the mystery at the heart of music. And is silence the most perfect form of music of all? Songwriting is the only form of meditation I know. And it is only in silence that the gifts of melody and metaphor are offered.
When the world becomes repressive and ugly and mean, we need form and beauty and balance and music--that's when artists feel most pressed into service.
"That's me singing," Charlie says. "That's me playing the water drum, too. If you know my song, you know Charlie. Everyone has a song. God gives each a song. That's how we know who we are. Our song tells us who we are.
Music is pleasing not only because of the sound but because of the silence that is in it: without the alternation of sound and silence, there would be no rhythm. If we strive to be happy by filling the silence of life with sound, productive by turning all life's leisure into work, and real by turning all our being into doing, we will only succeed in producing a hell on earth. If we have no silence, God is not heard in our music. If we have no rest, God does not bless our work. If we twist our lives out of shape in order to fill every corner of them with action and experience, God will seem silently to withdraw from our hearts and leave us empty.
Music is pleasing not only because of the sound but because of the silence that is in it: without the alternation of sound and silence, there would be no rhythm. If we strive to be happy by filling the silence of life with sound, productive by turning all life's leisure into work, and real by turning all our being into doing, we will only succeed in producing a hell on earth. If we have no silence, God is not heard in our music. If we have no rest, God does not bless our work. If we twist our lives out of shape in order to fill every corner of them with action and experience, God will seem silently to withdraw from our hearts and leave us empty.
Symphonies aim at healing the soul by taking human emotions and concerns and, through the alchemy of art, make us somehow feel better about all of life--and us. Music touches something higher in us directly. All of the arts touch something that is beyond the ordinary machinations of life. And this "something higher and more" makes even the most homespun art somehow therapeutic.
When we surround ourselves with sounds of nature, we are soothed and healed, comforted by the songs of our mother, the Earth. And who is there to sing back to the Earth?
How can we prepare for the most important years of our lives, the latter years, by thinking that we are going to shut down our engines? What have we done by limiting those persons who have the most to offer our society?
The eastern cultures know the secret. Elder members of society have mujch wisdom to share. The truth is that as one approaches the years beyond seventy, the veils of heaven are particularly open to the soul. This means that the individual has the opportunity to be of special service to humanity and can begin his or her most important work:
To contribute wisdom and experience to the young.
Service is one of the two main levers of evolution: one is meditation, the other is service. Service, of whatever kind, gradually distances you from yourself. As your service grows, expands outwards from yourself, you do not lose touch with yourself but you become less and less concerned with your own ego, your personality expression. Service is the impulse of the soul, the carying out of soul purpose.
Each pereson, no matter how old, has an important work to do. This good work not only accomplishes something needed in the world, but completes something in us. When it is finished a new work emerges that will help us make green a desert place, as well as to scale another mountain in ourselves. The work we do in the world, when it is a true vocation, always will correspond in some mysterious way in the work that goes on within us.
Fr. Joe's retort in answser to some enthusiastic piety of mine about the sanctity of community and its high purpose: "Good gracious -- we're not silly old monks mumbling prayers all day. We've got a job to do!" I realized how like him this was, how down-to-earth encapsulating his generous view of the ordinary. Every word he spoke was drawn from a deep well of generosity. He hade built it up over decades of contemplating people and loving them all without reserve. His gentle power spring from a straightforward assessment of the world and his job in it. That job was love.
Wend your way through the corridors of time,
not as passengers on a free ride
watching the seasons pass;
Rather, steady mindfulness quickens
the spirit, awakens the soul,
and opens the Inner Gate that leads
to the great Work so needed in these times.
Discover the joy of helping humanity
to reverence all Creation,
of offering your healing hands
in the restoration of planet Earth.
Discernment and discipline will cut through
impediments to action.
As we live, we are transmitters of life.
And when we fail to transmit life,
life fails to flow through us ...
And if, as we work, we can transmit
life into our work,
life, still more life, rushes into us
to compensate, to be ready
and we ripple with life through the days.
Give, and it shall be given unto you
is still the truth about life ...
It means kindling the life-quality
where it was not,
Even if it's only in the whiteness
of a washed pocket-handkerchief.
The song that the world sings through us is to be sung into others:
Go into the world, go build cities, go discover cultures; go spread love, go give, go make magnificence, get and give light, save and join and piece together to form a whole. Gather the broken pieces, connect them; these are the things we have to work with.
Make like a map, a world where all things are linked together and murmur through each other -- a singing, a round, strong, clear song of total meaning, a language within language, responding each to each forever in the memory of each individual.
I long to accomplish a great and noble task;
but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks
as if they were great and noble.
A spirituality of work is based on a heightened sense of sacramentality, of the idea that everything that is, is holy and that our hands consecrate it to the service of God. A spirituality of work puts us in touch with our own creativity ... draws us out of ourselves and, at the same time, makes us more of what we are meant to be. A spirituality of work immerses me in the search for human community. I finally come to know that my work is God's work, unfinished by God because God meant it to be finished by me.
God is the silent Power behind all things,
always ready to pur int our experience that which we need.
God works for us by working through us as us.
So long as space remains,
So long as sentient beings remain,
I will remain,
In order to help, in order to server,
In order to make my own contribution.
Those who would be of great service, remain silent;
they simply pour themselves out in all they do
unreservedly, confidently, peacefully.
If we add up all the time we have spent in our life getting things over with, it may turn out to be half our lives. The monastic attitude is to begin deliberately and to do anything we do with an even, stately pace and with wholehearted attention. This is how master artisans, weavers, experienced farmers, and other sage laborers work. That way even difficult tasks can be done leisurely ande with joy, for their own sake. And then they become life-giving.... We pray that God may guide our actions. When we do our work in this way, then everything becomes a prayer
There is a sensuality to nature as well as an asceticism; there are teachings on birth and death. Nature is nurturing, education, challenging ... a profound place of presence, of passivity and activity, giving and receiving. Pure contemplation is a direct route to God, and nature can provide an extraordinary context where that graced moment of being Unified can happen.
We create gardens because we are called to be co-creators with the Great Architect, designers of places to fulfill the human quest for wholeness and well-being.... Here in the garden the small voice of God can be heard as we stop to listen.
What we believe in anguish and doubt
the iris proclaims in simple blue tones;
What we do not see, the chickadee confirms
in its flight to the feeder;
Life, life everywhere, sacred everywhere.
Old trees hold us to the earth by their deep roots. And trees are our memories, like the blueprints of our planet's history. When ancient trees are cut, the earth loses its memory.
Our forests, those brave and sheltering Standing People, need their ancient forests, just as we humans need to be firmly rooted to our past generations, the grandparents who hold down our family tree.
If a plant cannot live according to its nature, it dies; and so a human soul.
The sacred waterfall of tahe Shuar people of Ecuador is breathtaking and beautiful. Yet standing before it, looking up into the rainbow that arches through the cascading waters, the visitor is struck by a feeling that transcends the magnificence of the landscape. No matter what your religion, you cannot help but sense the spirit of this place. Its power defies any attempt to describe the euphoria by a natural phenomenon so overwhelmingly grand that its voice seems to cross all the bridges of time.
O, You who are ever
giving life to all life,
moving all creatures,
root of all things,
washing them clean,
wiping out their mistakes,
healing their wounds,
You are our true life,
awakening the heart
from its ancient sleep.
The sun was trembling now on the edge of the ridge. It was alive, almost fluid and pulsating. As I watched it sink, I could feel the earth turning from it, actually feel its rotation. Over all was the silence of the wilderness, that sense of oneness which comes only when there are no distracting sights or sounds, when we listen with inward ears and see with inward eyes, when we feel and are aware with our entire beings rather than our senses. I though as I sat there, "Be still and know I am God," and knew that without stillness there can be not knowing, we cannot know what spirit means.
God is everywhere. The animals and flowers all manifest God's presence, as does the marvelous ecological balance we're becoming more aware of in recent times. Everything seems to work together over time to produce a certain consciousness of God's presence.
When we are in tune, we are conscious of spirit activating us and we welcome this alignment of our own little rhythm with the great rhythm of the Universe. Then we naturally feel refverence for all life and want to care for our Earth home. We desire simplicity. With joy we dance in the ecstasy of attunement. And we are led in the steps of the dance to offer our loving service to the world.
Earth, give me back your pure gifts,
the towers of silence which rose
from the solemnity of their roots.
I want to go back to being what I have not been,
and learn to go back from such deeps
that amongst all naturala things
I could live or not live; it does not matter
to be one stone more, the dark stone,
the pure stone which the river bears away.
It would go a great way to caution and direct people in their use of the World, that they were better studied and known in the Creation nof it. For how could humankind find the Confidence to abuse it, while they should see the Great Creator stare them in the Face, in all and every Part thereof?
Everything in nature invites us constantly to be what we are.
So many seasons have come and gone and these tall, majestic tress have waited, waited for someone to linger just a moment -- long enough to hear the word they speak, grasp their wonder and beauty, perfect symmetry of trunk and branch -- revealing their essence to the one who has eyes to see and the heart to share a joyful moment with another.
In praise of redwoods, ancient trees:
I think that could the weary world but know
Communion with these spirits breathing peace
Strangely a veil would lift, a light would glow,
And the dark tumult of our lives would cease.
There is a part of the sun in the apple,
Part of the moon in the rose
Part of the flaming Pleiades
In everything that grows.
Out of the vast comes nearness.
for the God of Love, of which we sing,
Has put a little bit of Heaven
In every living thing.
There is an interconnectedness, a oneness, an interrelationship of all life. We are not separate, isolated beings, but are all part of the great mystery of creation.
It is interesting to note that modern scientific thinking in many ways points to a similar underwstanding. An example of this is Bell's Theorem, which is sometimes referred to as the "butterfly effect."
It holds that the beating of a butterfly's wings can have an influence on events far away, even on the other side of the Earth.
This is true faith: connection to the universe and its inner divine consciousness through freedom, individual uniqueness, regard for one's true personality, grounding of the divine within, all expressed through love. It saves, for it makes us one with that which endures and can never be lost. It gives peace, for it brings the gift of Oneness. We are only upset by that which is outside ourselves and threatens to come in and destroy, or by the reflection of the intruder within. If we truly know we are One with all that is, nothing is outside us, nothing can threaten, so there can only be peace.
The exerience of Oneness is not limited to just the great mystics of all the ages. Each one of us is invited to experience this Oneness and we can do so in all our endeavors. We can experience and utilize our Oneness when we are appreciating the beauty of nature, in our spiritual practice, in the creative process, and in our social action in the world. When we are feeling separate from our God source, we can find deep within us that knowing of Oneness to guide us back into the Light.
O Hidden Life, vibrant in every atom,
O Hidden Light, shining in every creature,
O Hidden Love, embracing all in Oneness,
May all who feel themselves as one with Thee
Know they are therefore one with every other.
Some Thing that moves among the stars,
And holds the cosmos in a web of law,
Moves too in me: a hunger, a quick thaw
Of soul, that liquifies the ancient bars,
As I, a member of creation, sing
The burning oneness binding everything.
May I dance body and mind into You
and be changed.
Embedded in your close Presence
all is holy, all is interconnected, all is One.
When all things return to One, even gold loses its value. But when the One returns to all things, even the pebbles sparkle.
I think You, my God, for having in a thousand diffeent ways led my eyes to discover the immense simplicity of things. Little by little, through the irresistible development of those yearnings You implanted in me as a child, through the influence of gifted friends who entered my life at certain moments to bring light and strength to my mind, and through the awakenings of spirit I owe to successive initiations, gentle and terrible, which you caused me to undergo; through all these, I have been brought to the point where I can no longer see anything, nor any longer breathe, outside that milieu in which all is made One.
It is commonly considered rude to keep silent in the company of others, but voluntary silence connects rather than distances us from others whose individual differences temporarily fade away creating a shared feeling of harmony and oneness.
If the world is a temple, then our enemies are sacred, too. The ability to respect the outsider is probably the litmus test of true seeing. It doesn't even stop with human beings and enemies of the least of the brothers and sisters. It moves to frogs and pansies and weeds. EVERYTHING becomes enchanting with true sight.
One God, one world, one truth, one suffering, and one love. All we can do is to participate.
We are One with all life that is in nature.
We can no longer live for ourselves alone.
What seems to be happening at the moment is never the full story of what is really going on. For the honey bee, it is the honey that is important. But the bee is at the same time nature's vehicle for carrying out cross-pollination of the flowers. Interconnectedness is a fundamental principle of nature. Nothing is isolated. Each event connects with others. Things are constantly unfolding on different levels. It's for us to perceive the warp and woof of the Oneness of All as best we can and learn to follow our own threads through the tapestry of life with authenticity and resolve.
Let uis prove to the whole world that we are one,
let us be one in love to the poorest of the poor.
I felt a firm conviction of the unity, the Oneness, of all life, a kinship with all living things, even to the invisible busy atom, a sense that we were made of the same stuff and moved to the same patterns, from the atoms to the universes, the macrocosm repeating the microcosm, that love and truth and goodness in a single life were interpenetrated by the infinite love and truth and goodness we call God.
The voice of the solar wind -- aptly named "chorus" -- is both ethereal and haunting. You can hear echoes of crickets and snatches of whole song in this celestial starry music that bathes our planet. Everything is in vibratory relationship with everything else.
From the "strings" to the fluctuating pulses of cosmic radiationb that attend the expansion of the universe, there is a song that sounds through the fabric of our physical universe. The music of life is heard everywhere. It is we who fail to hear the music.
Silence is more musical than any song.
O music, in your depths we deposit our hearts and souls. Thou hast taught us to see with our ears and hear with our hearts.
Become more and more acquainted with your body on all its subtle levels, the fine vibrations which really are music, because when we talk of things created, they are only vibrations, nothing else, energy in movement and matter. In poetic language we can say the world is created by music. As we are the world, the universe, all the music of the universe is in our body.
On a sould discovery journey in the desert, our group included Miguel Gruntlein, who had studied the Peruvian flute. Early each morning I would hear Miguel somehwere near the camp playing the most serene song to gree the dawn with the same haunting tune; as we moved camp, the tune changed. When asked, Miguel said he was playing the songs of the canyon. Each place has its own song and reflects a unique facet of his soul that comes alive in the particular wild place he visits, a conversation between Miguel and the wild.
By now, every thermometer I have has burst at temperatures over 130 degrees. The abbot of the monastery suggested I make a journey up to a cave in the mountains with an elderly monk as guide. We had to walk barefoot as we were walking on holy ground. Under my breath I muttered and grumbled. The monk was well aware of me, and as I began to listen to what he was murmuring, I discovered it was melodic. He was actually singing a song of praise for the wonder and beauty of the day as I was accursing!
What can soothe the soul as much as the grace of music? Music allows us to express and deal with our feelings constructively, lifting them to a new place, a new level of integration. The enchantment of music helps free the soul to sing, and its energy becomes an infectious catalyst to change. On the wings of a beautiful melody, suddenly we feel different, ready to move forward.
How many songs I have I cannot tell you. I keep no count of such things. There are so manyu occasions in one's life when a joy or a sorrow is felt in suich a way tthat the desire comes to sing; and so I only know that I have many songs. All my being is song, and I sing as I draw breath.... It is just a necfessary for me to sing as it is to breath.
As I passed the tall spruce, it suddenly came alive with song. Startled, I stopped to listedn. Deep inside the thickly branched tree the sparrows had been awakened by some inner alarm clock and began heralding tghe dawn with their symphony cheeps, quickly filling the gray day with the sparkle of their voices. I stood there amazed, my heart transformed. A smile came as I pondered that usually silent tree now filled with hidden music.
Don't we all need a tree full of sparrow cheeps to lift our hearts into hope and to remind us of the surprising beauty of life!
I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling fingertips.
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sun to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow.
The monk made the bamboo come alive, capturing the sounfds of the universe and bringing them into the room. Long, deep, haunting tones vibrated in my chest. The notest demanded introspection. The noise of the rain somehow accentuated the silence between each phrase, adding an inconceivable dimension to the music.
We can think of ourselves as musical instruments that imprint the world in a unique way. Our body is the instrument, our nerves are the strings, and the musician is our spirit. When in a music store, if yuou pluck a string on a guitar, all the other guitars in the room will vibrate to that tone. What type of music are you making?
That which cannot be expressed otherwise can only be told through music. A thought, which seems common place in its analysis, acquires a depper sense in music.
Every soul is born out of silence, dies back into silence and during its life span is surrounded by silence. Silence allows the sound to be. It is an intrinsic but unmanifested part of every sound, every musical note, every word. The Unmanifested is present in the world as silence. Thnis is why it has b een said that nothing in this world is so like God as silence.
Which of these tow powers, love or music, can elevate us to the sublimest heights? Why separate them? They are the two wings of the soul.
Silence is the perfectest herald of joy.
I have made a friend who is so deeply connected with God that he can see joy where I expect only sadness. He travels much and meets countless people. When he shares, he tells of the hidden joys he has found: someone who brought him hope and peace, little groups of people who are faithful to each other in the midst of turmoil, the small wonders of Gexhilerating od. At times I realize that I am disappointed because I want to hear "newspaper news," exciti9ng and stories. But he never responds to my need for sensationalism. He keeps saying: "I saw something very small and very beautiful, something that gave me much joy."
I felt first of all joyous. I felt that which joy is made of, and I realized that Joy itself must have been the impelling force, that which was before we were there, and that somehow Joy was in every part of our making. When the world was an ooze without any shape or direction, there must have been Joy reaching out and expressing itself everywhere.
A life of joy is not in seeking happiness, but in experiencing and simply being the circumstances of our life as they are.
The spiritual life is the uncovering of deeper and deeper levels of joy until that joy that streams from the God-head itself is realized and known in every breath. Every increase in joy is an increase in strength and peace of soul and an increase in all the powers of creativity that reveal life as a divine dance.
Listen and I will tell you who are the people open to Joy whom God has blessed. Joyful are the poor, for nothing stands between them and the Realm of Love. Tilled with Joy are the sorrowful, for their souls are made strong through suffering. In Joyful surrender are the humble, for they receive the whole world as a gift. Joyful are they who long for holiness as one longs for food, for they shall enjoy Love's plenty. Joyful are the mercifully judged. Filled with Joy are they who establish peace for they share God's very nature. Joyful are the single-hearted for they know Love.
Happiness is the joy of the heart;
joy is the happiness of the soul.
Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine,
Under every grief and pine,
Runs a joy with silken twine.
It is right it should be so,
We were made for joy and woe,
And when this we rightly know,
Through the world we safely go.
The fulness of joy is to behold God in all things.
O thou dweller in my heart,
Open it out, purify it, make it bright, beautiful,
Awaken it, prepare it, make it fearless,
Make it a blessing to others,
Rid it of laziness, free it from doubt,
Unite it with all, destroy its bondage,
Let thy peaceful music prevade all its works,
Make my heart fixed on thy holy feet
And make it full of you, full of joy, full of joy,.
Jeremy found joy in the midst of Block 57. He found it during moments of the day where we found only fear. And he found it in such great abundance that when he was present we felt it rise in us. Inexplicable sensation, incredible even, there where we were: joy was going to fill us. Imagine this gift which Jeremy gave us! ... The joy of discovering that joy exists, that it is in us, just exactly as life is, without conditions and which no condition, even the worst, can kill. We did not understand, but we thanked him, time and time again.
Practice is everything; you practice to acquire facility in every art; but not one of these will repay you to the extent that the practice of joyousness will. Fall asleep at night, awaken in the morning; in the silence know, "All is joy." Then one day it will begin to work within you; you'll retain that joy as a permanent consciousness. Seek ye the realm of joy -- one of Love's holy attributes!
Joy is our goal, our destiny. We cannot know who we are except in joy. Joy is what happens when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things can be. Joy is not necessarily what happens when things unfold according to our own plans... Joy demands that we have the audacity to embrtavce the knowledge of just how beautiful we really are and how infinitely powerful we are right now -- without changing a thing -- through the grace that's consistently born and reborn in us.
The only true joy on earth is the escape from the prison of our own false selse, and enter by Love into union with the Life who dwells and sings within the essence of every creature and in the core of our own souls.
When we are able to accept being accepted, able to receive the loving, listening presence of God b oth embodied in others and hidden in their hearts, we experience God as Love, resulting spontaneously in gratitude, praise and joy. I mean an upwelling of heart-breaking, heart-opening thankfulness and joy that such Love could be, that we could be in it, that it could be in us, that we are all in it together.
The further I wake into this life, the more I realize that Love is everywhere and the extraordinary is waiting quietly beneath the skin of all that is ordinary. Light is in both the broken bottle and the diamond, and music is in both the flowing violin and the water dripping from the drainage pipe. Yes, Love is under the porch as well as on the top of the mountain, and JOY is both in the front row and in the bleachers, if we are willing to be where we are.
If we can be perfectly quiet and perfectly still with no attempt to overcome, destroy, remove, or escape from any situation or condition, the flow to the Spirit will rush in and there will be freedom.
For a composer silence is something pregnant with expectation ... the most naturally spiritual medium. The music grows in the spiritual life: the silence of monks, the silence of meditation, the silence of not knowing something, the terrible silence of God when we are confronted with evil in the world. Music has always been intimately connected with the numinous and the immaterial. I increasingly believe that the non-corporeal quality of music can be a direct challenge to the world and its materiality.
After Silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.
There is always music amongst the trees in the garden,
but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it.
The songs of whales ring wistful, even melancholy,
to the human ear. Perhaps this tone belongs to all
who plumb the depths.
A small bird with a red bonnet on its head came and perched on a rock opposite us. It waved its tail, turned its head anxiously in all directions, then glanced directly at us and as it did so, it grew bold and began to whistle softly, tauntingly at first; but soon it threw back its head, swelled its throat, and gazing at the sky, the light, burst into song with abandon. Everything vanished; nothing remained in the world save this bird and God: God, and a beak that was singing.
And we began to sing, "Why should I feel discouraged? Why do the shadows fall? "And Ranola watched Ken rather skeptically for a moment, and then her face began to melt and contort like his, and she went to his side and bent down to lift him up — lifted up this white rag doll, this scarecrow. She held him next to her, draped over and against her like a child while they sang. And it pierced me. I can't image anything but music that could have brought about this alchemy. Maybe it's because music is about as physical as it gets: your heartbeat; your essential sound, the breath. We're walking temples of noise, and when you add tender hearts to this mix, it somehow lets us meet in places we couldn't get to any other way.
I am carried by the movement of the sound.
I go with it, listening.
It is a flow of music through the universe,
A flow of music into me.
It is a flow of harmonies,
Vast, beyond me.
Tremendum. A great word, a sound,
The music of life playing in the spheres beyond.
In the Silence, in the Silence.
Music comes first from my heart, and then goes
upstairs to my head where I check it out.
Music heard so deeply,
it is not heard at all:
You ARE the music
while the music lasts.
Music heard so deeply,
it is not heard at all:
You ARE the music
while the music lasts.
I am one of a new breed, a hospital musician. Last week a doctor who had come out of a difficult eight-hour surgery heard the piano and stopped to rest. He said the aria I was playing from Bach's Goldenberg Variations revived him by reminding him of the larger picture. He said he felt more accepting of the outcome of the operation he'd performed. The man who'd received a new kidney said, "Beethoven's Ninth Symphony reminded me how much I want to live, how much I love life. After listening to the music I was able to pray again."
It's a wonder to behold how human beings feel after making their own music. It's been well-documented throughout history that people really put themselves on a higher spiritual level when they involve themselves in music or any of the allied arts. Our lives are so affected by what we do artistically. But too often we hold back because of our limiting image of success thinking: I don't know how to do this. We need to give ourselves the freedom to create our own sounds of music.
Nothing prepared me for what I saw. I realized that the young voice was coming from 83-year-old Jonas, who was singing the "Sanctus" by Beethoven, with a beauty that could not be explained. It was like the Soul of all life summoning each spirit who listened: Here! Here is the sound of all that is true. Hear the sound of the Love to which you belong. That afternoon I learned that Jonas had been sent to Siberia as a young man because of that voice. Because of the remarkable gift he had been sent to build roads and live in obscurity. Now he was an elderly man, but the voice had never aged. Truly, it existed apart from any space and time.
My life goes on in endless song
above Earth's lamentations,
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
that hails a new creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear its music ringing,
It sounds an echo in my soul;
How can I keep from singing?
The imagination is one of every thing in the universe as a song of praise ... the world as symphony. If one note in a musical composition is played off-key, the whole composition is off. If a musician decides to go his or her own way in the middle of a symphony in order to express freedom, the free play of the whole is destroyed. On the other hand, musicians find true freedom when their individuality harmonizes with the whole.
When you are interiorly free you call others to freedom, whether you know it or not. Freedom attracts wherever it appears. A free man or a free woman creates a space where others feel safe and want to dwell. Our world is so full of conditions, demands, requirements, and obligations that we often wonder what is expected of us. But when we meet a truly free person there are no expectations, only an invitation to reach into ourselves and discover there our own freedom. Where true inner freedom is, there God is. And where God is, there we want to be.
Compassionate action is a requisite to true freedom.
There's such beauty in sharing the distinctive songs of our own souls as we dance with the grand web of life, each of us embodying particular forms, energies, and rhythms, bringing into the world our unique purposes, passions, and gifts. The tapestry of our lives is colored with freedom when we are guided by our own creativity and knowing.
Consider freedom: find an inner freedom and then,
however constraining the circumstances are,
it will not diminish your internal freedom.
In the last years of his life, Rultin was fond of repeating a statement attributed to A. Philip Randolph: "The struggle must be continuous, for freedom is never a final act. "A few months before Rultin died, a young admirer asked how he kept hopeful in dismally conservative times. "I have learned a very significant message from the prophets," Rultin replied. "They taught that God does not require us to achieve any of the good tasks that humanity must pursue. What is required of us is that we not stop trying."
The inner spirit is who I really am. My body is alive in this nature and exists in its frame. I do not need to be spiritual to find this. I only need to stop believing that the ego, the small self, is me. If I do, a different knowing emerges which has a largeness and a certain beauty. It is an expression of power and love beyond the usual definitions. To live in its knowledge is to know yourself to be free.
Play is our contact with our love for life. It brings us back into our joy at being alive and shows us where our freedom is. Play moves us out of our fixed mindsets: it offers freedom from the tyranny of habit, freedom from the mundane and ordinary, from the rational and need to know and be in control. It is freedom from rigid identification with race, class, gender, and even species.
Heaven is to be
in God at last made free.
Those who are disciplined with joy and light within become one with God and reach the freedom that is God.
Freedom is not an end in itself. It is not just freedom from something; it must also be freedom for something. In the spiritual life, freedom is for nothing other than love. Human beings exist because of love, and the meaning and goal of our lives is love.
Someone was drawing water and my teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the cool streams gushed over one hand, she spelled into the other the word "Water," first slowly, then rapidly. I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motions of her fingers. Suddenly, I felt a misty caress as of something forgotten—a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew that "w-a-t-e-r" meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free!
Spirit's gift of freedom comes to us as a conscious rhapsody of being chosen and choosing. We are journeyed through life by mysterious Spirit that will not let us be till we grasp our freedom, with fear and fascination, till we say yes or no. This is the glory of being human: experiencing being chosen to decide, and deciding, again and again, endlessly. This is the conscious rhapsody of our lives.
To lie fallow is a gift. We don't really know how to do it. Rather we are done by it or undone by it. The moments we are allowed to be in that condition are times of gratitude. It is from these that our freedom comes. It is where authentic being exists. Any fruitfulness arises from that surrendered openness. It is there that God makes each of us a fertile ground, a bearing soil.
Most people want solitude because they want to discover their unconditional freedom, where they are free of all definitions.
Resting in the heart of God
wings of freedom.
How can we discern the true freedom of our soul, the freedom in which everything is given, from the promises and practices of personal liberation? Mystics who have given themselves to love know what is beyond the borders of culture and conditioning. They inhabit a region of the soul where love and service are given freely and there is neither striving nor achievement. Living a relationship of oneness, they recognize that the deepest longing of their heart belongs not to themselves but to their Beloved... Belonging neither to this world or the next, they are servants of love and carry the wisdom that comes from a commitment to love.
As we enable others to work
with meaning, mutual
fulfillment becomes a
building block to peace
and smiles become contagious.
We are asking,
May Work with Meaning
flourish on Earth.
All work is empty save when there is love.
In order to continually re-imagine ourselves through our work lives, we must have a part of us that belongs to something beyond the status quo. Something over the horizon or, paradoxically, beneath us, in the ground of our life. Something as yet hidden, yet to be brought to light. Something which is governed by other laws than the ones we so assiduously obey every day. Something to do with the laws that govern the way we belong to this stubborn and beautiful world.
If we just worry about the big picture, we are powerless. So my secret is to start right away doing whatever little work I can do. I try to give joy to one person in the morning, and remove the suffering of one person in the afternoon. If you and your friends do not despise the small work, a million people will remove a lot of suffering.
Twenty years ago, when I was near death from a life-threatening illness, a vivid dream was more real than life. Floating out of my body, I rose up, up, and up inside the clouds above. With no door visible, I nevertheless knocked, repeatedly demanding entry. The sky whitened with my greeting as a Large Voice stated, "You have got a lot of work to do. "It sent me down, down back into my body with the life-long question: What is my Work? Is my present action leading to my Work?
A person's life purpose is nothing more than to rediscover, through detours or art, or love, or passionate work, those one or two images in the presence of which that person's heart first opened.
The wise work diligently without allegiance to words.
They teach by doing, not by saying;
they are genuinely helpful,
positive, not possessive.
They do not proclaim their accomplishments,
and because they do not proclaim them,
credit for them can never be taken away.
Be a gardner.
Dig a ditch,
toil and sweat
and turn the earth upside down
and seek deepness
and water the plants in time.
Continue this labor
and make sweet floods to run
and noble and abundant fruits
Take this food and drink
and carry it to God
as your worship.
For me, the question is whether my encounter with death has freed me enough from the addictions of the world that I can be true to my Work as I now see it "sent" from above. It clearly involves a call to prayer, contemplation, silence, solitude, and inner detachment. I have to keep choosing my "not belonging" in order to belong, my not being from below in order to be from above. For, the taste of God's unconditional love quickly disappears when the addictive powers of everyday existence make their presence felt again.
Each person, no matter how old, has an important work to do. This good work not only accomplishes something needed in the world, but completes something in us. The work we do in the world, when it is true vocation, always corresponds in some mysterious way to the work that goes on within us.
I was invited to a barn raising near Wooster, Ohio. A tornado had leveled 4 barns and acres of prime Amish timber. In just three weeks the downed trees were sawn into girders, posts and beams and the 4 barns rebuilt and filled with livestock donated by neighbors to replace those killed in the storm. I watched the raising of the last barn in open-mouthed awe. Some 400 Amish men and boys, acting and reacting like a hive of bees in absolute harmony of cooperation, started at sunrise with only a foundation and floor and by noon, BY NOON, had the huge edifice far enough along that you could put hay in it -- a vast work, born of the spirit.
The purpose of this world is not to have and hold, but to give and serve.
Douglas Steere writes in WORK AND CONTEMPLATION of occasional moments of transcendence, as "ripples of ecstasy, when our deepest creative impulse, our spring of freedom, is drawn upon and released . . . And in such moments of utter self-absorption, we are lifted above both pain and pleasure. "These moments move us beyond the ordinary labors of our lives. They often occur when we have been in the company of strangers. They require time, and they invite Love.
Think of your work not as a place to make a living, but as an opportunity to make a life. Think of yourself as a channel through which creative activities flow.
The word integrity has two meanings. The first is "honesty. "We have to be honest in facing our limitations, in facing the sheer complexity of the world, honest in facing criticism even of things which are deeply precious to us. Integrity also means wholeness, Oneness, the desire for a single vision, the refusal to split our minds into separate compartments where incompatible ideas are not allowed to come into contact. An undivided mind looks in the end for an undivided truth, a Oneness at the heart of things. The whole quest for integrity presupposes that in the end we are all encountering a single reality and a single truth.
. . And everything comes to One
As we dance on, dance on, dance on.
When all things return to the One, even gold loses its value.
But when the One returns to all things, even the pebbles sparkle.
It may seem difficult to believe that a simple culture in the Himalaya has anything to teach our industrialized society. But our search for a future that works keeps spiraling back to an ancient connection between ourselves and the earth, an interconnectedness and Oneness that ancient cultures have never abandoned.
I long for the day when the statement,
"Our God is love, our race is human,
and our religion is Oneness,"
is more than the musings of my mind,
but is the creed of the heart of the human family.
May we all attend to reuniting our heads, hearts, and hands, taking time to be receptive, suspending judgment, and awaiting patiently for insights that arise, unbidden. May we practice being still and really listening – to ourselves, to each other, and to the gentle whispers of the living intelligences of the natural world.
If we can do that, we will build a contagious energy that will ultimately lead to real healing and restoration – the restoration of our wholeness, as a global community – of our deep and fundamental interdependence and Oneness with each other, other species and the whole interwoven web of creation.
The Spirit in all
when all become One,
Peace reigning on earth.
The thoughts of the earth are my thoughts.
The voice of the earth is my voice.
All that belongs to the earth belongs to me.
All that surrounds the earth surrounds me.
It is lovely indeed, it is lovely indeed.
O, Blessed Peacemaker
You make your Home in our hearts
as Loving Companion Presence.
With unreserved, radical trust,
our path is made sure.
Bonded in Love, we become empowered
to serve with mercy and justice:
One with You…
One with All.
Blessed are You, O Life of our lives.
Creation separates the many from the One.
Spiritual evolution reunites the many with the One.
The Oneness of each to all through God is real, objective, existential. It is an eternal relationship which is shared in by every stick and stone and bird and beast and saint and sinner of the universe. On all, the wooing love of God falls urgently, persuadingly.
"We did not weave the web of life," wrote Ted Perry in the spirit of Chief Seattle. "We are only a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourself. "The part can no longer make believe that it does not belong to the Whole or contribute to the life or death of the Whole. We are One great respiration, One great circulation, One great web of life over this round earth.
Insects singing, larvae, pupae, seeds celebrating their fecundity, cones opening, draped boughs undulating from trunks connecting earth to sky, everything vital, everything expressing a divine Spirit, God filling all space. A single swirl of energy–birth, growth, feeding, breeding, decay–all of it continuous Life, teeming with mystery, and she a part of it.
She felt an incoming and an unfurling, a momentary mindlessness, a long-awaited union, a beautiful silent Oneness, and she was left with an unutterable calm.
The people of the world are limbs from one body,
sharing one essence.
When a single limb is oppressed,
all the others suffer agony.
To be fully human, we must recognize the full humanity of all other people. Each of us will be fully human only when we recognize the Aliveness of all Creation, when we learn to speak of God in Everything, and to humbly admit our interdependence and Oneness with the Great Web we call Creation.
A human being is part of the whole, called by us the "universe," a part limited in time and space. One experiences oneself, one's thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of one's consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the Oneness of nature in its beauty.
Service, gladly rendered, obligations squarely met, troubles well accepted or solved with God's help, the knowledge that at home or in the world we are partners in a common effort, the well understood fact that in God's light all human beings are important, the proof that love freely given surely brings a full return ... These are permanent and legitimate satisfactions of right living for which no amount of pomp and circumstance, no heap of material possessions, could possibly be substitutes.
True ambition is the deep desire to live usefully and to walk humbly under the grace of God.
A work of art is revelation.
The greening spirit that is the shape of our sacred world is ever present, ever near to us. Our daily life can start to feel like a daily grind, causing us to forget this precious greening spirit of life. The Celtic Way banishes the heavy energies of a banal existence by sanctifying every moment with soul energy and purpose. Even the simplest tasks can be invested and imbued with sacred energy.
That there is no separation between you and all that is good and true. Grace. A moment in thought where you are not alone, for you realize that you are part of a living, breathing creation. A moment where you understand that the unfolding of your life has meaning. Grace. The interturning of thought, intuition, and work to the highest possible good.
"My upside days are over, Greg Sahib," he said. "I'd like to work with you for many more years, but Allah, in his wisdom, has taken much of my strength. "
Mortenson hugged this may who'd helped him so often to find his way. Despite Mouzafer's talk of weakness, his arms were still strong enough to squeeze the breath out of a large American. "What will you do?" Mortenson asked.
"My work now," Mouzafer said simply, "is to give water to the trees."
Blessed are you
who work with goodness
who stand for the right
who live in truth.
For you come to know the Friend
who dwells in the secret room
of your heart.
You are like an acorn planted
in fertile soil
that grows into a mighty oak.
Your work blesses others,
you radiate love;
joy delights your heart.
Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks.
As the day brings us the petty round of irritating duties, help us perform them with laughter and a kind face; give us to go blithely on our business.
To view work as a pilgrimage is to put our heart's desires to hazard, because merely by setting out, we have told ourselves that there is something bigger and better, or even smaller and better – above all something more life giving – that awaits us in our work, and we are going to seek it. We look around to see what we have for the journey and find at bottom that we possess only intuitions and imagination.
Work is work and there's harmony in it when the dignity it deserves is allowed to thrive naturally. The greatest teaching manual labor provides a contemplative practice is that there is no separation between work and prayer: work is prayer and prayer is work.
When yonever again will your work be a burdenu can find something in your work that is in the nature of a service to be performed, . When you have found something into which you can put your heart and soul and you can pour out some measure of service, even if in the beginning it is the most menial of labors, it will lead you to the joy of expressing yourself. If your consciousness is filled with service and cooperation, then your activity regardless of its nature will express the service and cooperation in your consciousness, and it will be a steadily expanding and unfolding activity.
No ray of sunshine is ever lost,
but the green which it awakens
needs time to sprout,
and it is not always granted
for the sower to see the harvest.
All work that is worth anything is done
Works of love are the way to peace. And where does this love begin? Right in our hearts. We must know that we have been created for greater things, not just to be a number in the world, not just to go for diplomas and degrees, this work and that work. We have been created in order to love and to be loved.
Work for the sake of accomplishing the task at hand and understanding; in the beginning, the work is more important than the worker. When you finish your task, look at what you have achieved. If you have worked with your heart, you will be pleased with the results. These results will make you want to achieve even more in your next endeavor. The results are the true rewards of our labors.
I was looking at the sky, just watching. I don't know how to say it, but I felt everything was perfect and connected--it's like there was no room even to think. It felt like my chest could explode and be the sun and the clouds.
Made of the stuff of probability waves, starlight, planetary cycling, mighty mountains, continents, and oceans of our silver blue sphere, genetic journeys, language, learning, and loving, we each were birthed by this glorious universe that continues to show us its awesome majesty with each year cycling, each day dawning, each breath repeated, and each moment unfolding. We can only be joyous with the realization that so much of this awesome majesty is reflected in human consciousness. It is precisely this fact that enables us to call ourselves Sparks of God.
Each creature that Love made must live its own true nature.
The earth is at the same time mother,
she is mother of all that is natural,
mother of all that is human.
She is the mother of all,
for contained in her are the seeds of all.
The earth of humankind contains all moisture,
all verdancy, all germinating power.
It is in so many ways fruitful.
All creation comes from it.
Yet it forms not only the basic raw materials
for humankind, but also
the substance of Incarnation.
If we will think of ourselves as coming out of the earth, rather than having been thrown in here from somewhere else, we see that we are the earth, we are the consciousness of the earth. These are the eyes of the earth. And this is the voice of the earth.
Nature is the great teacher, the book of life to be read and understood. That's why it is important not just to protect the natural world, but to guide it to the highest level of perfection. Our task as spiritual people is to foster an intimate bond between the world of nature--rivers, mountains, oceans, animals, forests--and our own felt nature. When one is thriving, the other will find needed support.
Nothing has the potential to move us off dead center quite as powerfully as unexpected encounters in nature. From the meadows to the mountaintops, from the devoted pet to the flight of the bumblebee--the ways that nature nurtures us bring tears to our eyes and resolve to our hearts. And we are often brought into the place of allowing the spirit to finally get through to us. The possibilities are endless--the motion of the tides, the cleansing of a rainstorm, the dormancy of winter--all remind us that a force greater than ourselves turns the clock of this universe. Nature immerses us in that power.
When we enter the Stillness and listen, we feel the aliveness that is all around us. We give ourselves the opportunity to be a part of the vibrant, living, natural world. The Stillness brings a deep serenity into our hearts and a vital life force into our bodies. When we practice Entering the Silence in nature, there is no frantic separation between the creatures of the forest and the gentleness of our hearts.
Robert could not find the answer; his mind was driving him in circles. There was only one way to make it stop. Robert walked across the fields at dusk into the Forest of Welferding. His better self always seemed to come out in nature, perhaps because he had come from and would eventually die and go into nature. He felt the cool moisture on his skin, smelled the musky moss tucked between the stones along the brook, walking until he almost forgot why he'd come. The sky was filled with stars with no air raid sirens, no distant roaring of planes. In the forest Robert had caught a glimpse of what the world could be like without war, and it was good.
As mind slowly empties itself,
nature undresses herself.
Arriving daffodils will make no sound,
will blow no trumpets -- only the earthworm
close to its root, burrowing underground,
will hear the upsurge, feel the green stems yearn.
Beauty returns to Earth, devoid of noise,
devoid of clamor. Now it lifts its head
epitome of stillness and of poise
and in unbroken silence all is said.
Nature soothes, heals, and teaches with her silence.
I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heavens,
The glorius sun's lifegiving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.
The Mikmaq on the Atlantic coast have no sound for Nature. They have "space" or "place of creation" ... they have cultural literacy with the ecosystem ... every aspect of nature to Mikmaqs is Spirit. They live in harmony with this intelligible essence. The Mikmaq can perceive the web.
I find it impossible to doubt music while actually playing it. Even as the rest of my life seems overpopulated with questions and uncertainties about why one thing should be done instead of another, in the midst of the playing, dancing around silence and space with the presence of notes, the music always seems to matter. I still want to reach for those notes that must be played, that are right because they are essential melodies, unavoidable tones, songs that cannot be defied. This music is silent even when it sings because it does not speak--it cannot be reduced by explanation.
It is my heart
that makes songs,
Next I saw the most lucid air, in which I heard in a marvelous way many kinds of musicians praising the joys of the heavenly citizens. ... And their sound was like the voice of a multitude, making music in harmony.
We who love music of any type share one thing in common. Music touches us intellectually and emotionally. We love the notes, the rhythm, the percussion--the sound. It stirs us where we live. It speaks to us. ... Maybe our styles of faith differ from one another, but there is one binding love, this one celestial music that supersedes our differences and joins us at our hearts, into God. Loving music of any type makes us similar. Our problem is that we tend to note the differences, not the similarities.
Consider learning how to sing or play a musical instrument, not for professional reasons but as a way to interact with the angels and to enjoy sound. Recently, I started playing my flute again. When I sit outside and play my flute it is exhilarating . I treasure these moments where I can return to the heaven-sent birds even the most meager reflection of the beautiful music they offer me throughout the year.
Within this body
The Eternal keeps singing
And Its spring goes on and on flowing.
There is a certain relevance to life
that is hard to hear in the business of the day.
The past and future come pounding on my brain.
It is in the time I spend alone with God
that I tune my soul to the music of the dance.
I can begin to hear the song
in the most wondrous places,
in the most unexpected circumstances.
I am called to the rhythm
and even if no one else has ears,
I enter in the song.
You wouldn't think
It would be so easy
Who we really are
Or that death is always at our shoulder
Or that everything is alive
Or that God is everywhere singing.
I once heard the pianist, Arthur Rubinstein, being interviewed. At one point he was asked to share his experience of playing Chopin's Nocturnes. He said in effect, "I do not know what it is. But over and over again I have had the experience of sitting in a crowded concert hall playing the Nocturnes and I can feel everyone in the room waiting for the next note." In this moment of waiting, all present find their contemplative community in their oneness with one another in the boundless mystery that enraptures them.
Music was bestowed on humankind for the sake of effecting harmonious revolutions of the soul within us whenever its rhythmic motions are disturbed. Thus when the soul has lost its harmony, melody, and rhythm, music assists in restoring it to order and concord.
I heard the first measures of music and was thinking how lovely it was to be in this small church in a distant land. Then a solo voice took over the room, filling everything with its power, and my next breath came with difficulty. I have never, anywhere, heard a human voice so Pure, a sound so penetrating: outside of me, then suddenly inside of me, tearing down resistances I didn't even know I had ... its love so piercing that everyone began to weep involuntarily. When I opened my eyes nothing prepared me for what I saw. The young voice was coming from eighty-three-year-old Jonas, who was singing the "Sanctus," by Beethoven, with a beauty that could not be explained. It was like the Soul of all life summoning each spirit who listened.
A divine voice sings
through all creation.
The music flows within me like pure spirit.
What a wonderful conversation
within the flow of universal energy!
Eloquence needs no words --
I know this from intimacy with the divine.
O Great One, I give thanks for this
and for all music --
A power line fed into my heart from
the universal grid.
There is a pressing need for something to be made known, for the secrets of the heart to be made public, for the music of the soul to be played. For centuries lovers of God have held the secrets of Divine Love within their own hearts, shared only with a few. But this knowledge needs to be made public, the song of Love's oneness to be heard. If the music of Divine Love is not played in the marketplaces, life will lose its meaning, and the collective despair of the soul will be too terrible to imagine.
Gratitude gentles us
and grants us grace.
As I express my gratitude,
I become more deeply aware of it.
And the greater my awareness,
the greater my need to express it.
What happens here is a spiraling ascent,
a process of growth in
ever expanding circles
around a steady center.
Gratitude is the memory of the heart.
When you no longer have expectations, the unexpected kindness of others and small acts of consideration become like "sweet manna from heaven." The feeling that rises spontaneously within one's heart at such times is true gratitude. When one is accustomed to kindness, one can lose the feeling of gratitude. One must constantly return oneself to the spiritual starting point of no expectations.
Thou that has given so much to me,
Give me one thing more--
a grateful heart.
Grandfather cultivated gratitude at every step. On Fridays, after noon prayers, he retired to his room for a half hour ritual. Eyes closed, hands on heart, grandfather melted into a trance. Softly, at times in silence, he intoned continuous words of heart-felt thanks to God interspersed with recitations from the Holy Book. At times his body swayed with his outpourings; other times he was still. Tears poured profusely down his cheeks, soaking his shirt. Curious family members who secretly peeked in invariably burst into tears.
Were there no God, we would
be in this glorious world
with grateful hearts
and no one to thank!
The ancients sometimes said
that the worst sin is
ingratitude, which is a
forgetting of the greatness,
beauty, truth, and goodness
of the Source that is
constantly creating us--
in other terms, a forsaking
of Being and of the Good.
The essence of all beautiful
art, all great art,
In the very last conversation we ever had, five days before his death, the subject came around to gratitude ...
"If you're quiet enough, as still as that mountain, you can hear in your heart a silent ‘thank you.' The whole universe, if you listen in your heart -- every blade of grass, each bird, each stone -- it is all ‘thank you.' We are born into ‘thank you' ... every step of the way is ‘thank you.' "
Rafe may not have heard the stars move. But I believe he was hearing "the Love that moves the stars and the sun."
The right here is an inner, not an outer, state of being rooted in Love ... Not only am I alert to the present moment, I am hopefully, wishfully, longingly expecting something in it. Gratitude deepens both the attentiveness and the expectancy. Through gratitude I am not only glad for where I am and for all the possibilities inherent in where I am, I am also able to accept the everything or the nothing that is given. Gratitude enables me to find my very own place, humbly and joyfully, in the right here.
As the monk advances in practice, feelings of hardship decrease and he is suffused with energy and sustained by joy. The marathon monk has become one with the mountain, flying along a path that is free of obstruction. The joy of practice has been discovered and all things are made new each day. Awakened to the Supreme, one marathon monk described his gratitude thus:
"Gratitude for the teachings of the enlightened ones,
gratitude for the wonders of nature,
gratitude for the charity of human beings,
gratitude for the opportunity to practice ... "
In Silence as
Bright as Round White Light
of full moon,
In Blessed Stillness
of new moon season
Life and Breath
Gratitude is an amazing grace crowned in heaven with peace.
Slowly, the practice of gratitude will begin to transform your consciousness so you start to detect Divine Presence and Divine Mercy all around you, which in time tremendously lessens your fear and suffering. For, it will make you aware of the maternal protection of God and of how the entire universe and all of life is constantly giving you signs of God's glory, beauty, and love. Practicing gratitude not only heals you of vanity and pride; it also heals your fear, grief, and insecurity of separation.
Come into the light of things.
Let nature be your teacher.
When the lessons of equality are learned on earth, the electro-magnetic field of the planet will change and earth will give birth to a new, more glorious curriculum. The seeds of this transformation have already been sown. Our job is to water and nurture them.
We cannot discover ourselves without first discovering the universe, the earth, and the imperatives of our own being.
God did not grant me the gift of art. I had to express myself in my own life, in my thoughts, in my feelings, in my dreams and ideas, and in my love for all humanity and the Earth. I feel human, totally ecstatically human. I will help this planet, with all my abilities and love, to become what it was always meant to be: the planet of Love, a true miracle in the universe, inhabited by a happy, fulfilled, peaceful, loving humanity, thankful for the miraculous gift of life.
The Divine Feminine encourages interdependence, interconnectedness, and mutuality: instead of dominating and controlling nature, the Divine Feminine represents reverence for nature’s web of life. Instead of dismissing feelings and emotions, the Divine Feminine interprets them as a source of wisdom.
There is nothing in me that is not of the earth, no split second of separateness, no particle that disunites me from the surroundings. The river runs through my veins, the winds glow in and out with my breath, the soil makes my flesh, the sun’s heat smolders inside me. A sickness or injury that befalls the earth befalls me. A fouled molecule that runs through the earth runs through me. Where the earth is cleansed and nourished, its purity infuses me. The life of the earth is my life. My eyes are the earth gazing at itself.
I dream of a world where all beings are honored, where earth, air, fire and water are held to be sacred. For me, living more simply is an important step toward helping to create this world... Voluntary simplicity is a tiny thread in the cosmic process. It is said that one cell’s action affects the whole universe. This means that whatever we do as individuals does make a difference.
Snow crystals on a trembling leaf,
along the river where we talked at
the tip of Spring; fresh air, moist
lavender sky--the silence following
a blessed rain that came, bringing
us to beauty; a tiny wild flower
under the shadows of a moss-covered
log; as if to say, I am the first smile,
the new beginning of heaven.
Something inside of me has reached to the place
where the world is breathing.
Breathing is the connection between the mind and the body. When the mind concentrates on the breath, it focuses attention on the present moment. Breathing is the first step on the path to discover your spiritual nature. As you get the body to breathe correctly, the mind settles down, and that creates fertile ground to develop whatever spiritual nature exists within you.
Take the breath of the new dawn,
make it a part of you,
it will give you strength.
When we understand how precious each moment is, we can treat each breath, each moment, as a newborn baby. Awareness can become that tender.
Breathing properly and consciously assumes an attitude of openness and attentiveness. Our breath has a connection with the deeper emotional layers of consciousness. This is evident when we are emotional, angry, or anxious. At the same time, however, our breath remains open to those dimensions of our consciousness where we unfold and become receptive to God.... We need to discipline ourselves to attain an inner stillness and receptive attention toward God, who is our beginning.
There are two graces in breathing:
drawing in air and discharging it.
The former constrains, the latter refreshes:
so marvelously is life mixed.
In this latter part of life, my prayer of the heart is most often without words. My tongue is stilled. My mind is stilled. The prayer of the heart becomes the heart's own respiration. I breathe in and I breathe out. It is God's breath. God breathing in, God breathing out. It is God's breath breathing me.
Give us a heart for simple things:
Love and laughter
Bread and wine
Tales and dreams
Fill our lives with
Green and growing hope
Make us a people of justice
Whose song is Allelujah
And whose name
... a Prayer by Walter Wink
Breathing in I calm my body and mind.
Breathing out I smile.
Windforest: take our breath away,
and return it to us refreshed
with the life you can give it.
Take it to the ends of the earth,
to nourish what you sustain,
And bring back what is offered you
there to sustain others.
Transform our breath so that new life
can be nurtured.
We live in a time of religious fervor, with adherents too busy clashing with each other to honor the sacred space we all share, the spiritual core of "soul-breath" – the same human family from the same Source breathing the same air on the same planet.
In any activity that requires concentrated effort, the breath quite naturally plays a role. If you have ever tried to thread a needle or repair a watch, you might have observed that without even thinking about it the breath quiets and deepens. Singers, swimmers, people who struggle with panic attacks, and a host of others learn the importance of proper breathing in order to negotiate the respective tasks at hand. Thus, that the art of contemplative practice can be facilitated by the breath should come as no surprise.
"From LUMEN CHRISTI, the wording 'Nurture yourself with feasts of breath in silence and solitude' blew me away, to put it mildly. Although most mornings I do some breathing exercises, it occurred to me that I had not really paid attention to my breath otherwise in months. Going into meditation, I focused on inhaling Divine Love and exhaling peace and harmony. My mind became like a prism, drawing the energy of the pure white light of Love to a focal point and then refracting it into the colors of peace and harmony and breathing them out to the world ... thirty-five minutes in the Silence without distracting thoughts intruding!"
Breathing is an act of prayer
Breath of life,
You ride the waves of life with me
in the rhythms of my communion with you.
You enter the comings and goings
of each day and in every prayer I breathe.
Whether I am in the stillness of quiet prayer
or in the fullness of the day's activity,
may your peace flow through my being.
People can live only by dwelling in the living breath of God. Only in this way can they be at peace and realize their aspirations. From sunrise to sunset, they dwell in the living breath of God; every sight and thought is part of that breath. God provides a place for them filled with clarity and bliss and stillness. In the silence, we are moved by this wind, which blows everywhere in the world.
I'm learning that what's important is not so much what I do to make a living as who I become in the process. Simple labor is smoothing my edges, teaching me to crave work not because it might make me special or wealthy but because the job pleases my spirit, makes me a more pleasant person, and meets my immediate financial needs.
... Forcing things works against instinct and the elements. Working within the tides and the rules of the universe is fast becoming my preference.
To turn all we possess into the channel of universal love becomes the Work of our lives.
You feel your longing and desires and they do the Work. My whole life has been following my intuition and strange beckonings.
To be in service to God is to realize that there is a loving force in the universe, and I must pull away the veil and allow the force to come through.
The more I withdraw into God and with God into silence, the closer I feel to everyone and the more I find everyone. The more I make my little efforts to help others by practicing my calling, the more fruit I bear, albeit without seeing a single fruit. I must live my life with naked and pure faith, giving everything without seeing anything. What holy peace and joy this gives to my soul! Even if all I give is worth no more than a penny, how pleasing it is to God, because what counts is the slightest effort to give one's all, and how great is the reward: God's all.
I found that the Ladakhis had an abundance of time. They worked at a gentle pace and had a surprising amount of leisure. Even during harvest season, when the work lasts long hours, it is done at a relaxed pace that allows an eighty-year-old as well as a young child to join in and help. People work hard, but at their own rate, accompanied by laughter and song. The distinction between work and play is not rigidly defined.
Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.
The way to do is to be!
Without going outside,
you may know the whole world.
Without looking through the window,
you may see the ways of heaven.
The farther you go, the less you know.
Thus the sage knows without traveling ...
sees without looking ...
works without doing.
In planetary service, all work and workers
are equal. ... All service leads to the good
of the whole.
O Thou, cut down in me this hour and every
hour the swift growing tree of self-regard
which screens me from the needs of others.
Fill me with the realization that for these
few swift years I am put here on earth,
I am lent to be spent in the service of others.
Work helps prevent one from getting old. My work is my life. I cannot think of one without the other. The one who works and is never bored is never old. A person is not old until regrets take the place of hopes and plans. Work and interest in worthwhile things are the best remedy for aging. ... With age your facility of expression and perception diminishes. I have almost nothing left but time. But if I can be of service, I would like to go on living.
I am learning as I go about my daily life of work, play, or prayers that it is right and good to be here doing whatever it is I am to be doing. In a word, attentiveness and being in the present. Learning to be. A growing sense of vocation with the liberty to be at One ... to be harmonious.
Contrary to what many think, contemplatives are the great doers. In their return from silence they take up the work of giving form to the liberating truths that have been given to them in flashes of insight and vision. Because they have been present to themselves, they are able to be present to others in a way that awakens, enlivens, gives courage. In them we see more clearly a way of existence that combines both being and doing.
When love and skill work together,
expect a masterpiece.
God, give me work
Till my life shall end
Till my work is done.
I didn't know exactly how to go about helping others. But if I could remember that great acts are the small, quiet ones that no one hears about, that would be a start. I could look for ways myself to help people in need of a boost, to align myself with underdogs. I need to remember Ella's way with her leprosy ... her intent. Perhaps it didn't matter what I did to earn a living, as long as the motive was to help others and not just gain attention.
All things belonging to the earth will never change—the leaf, the blade, the flower, the wind that cries and sleeps and wakes again, the trees whose stiff whose arms clash and tremble in the dark . . . all things proceeding from the earth to seasons, all things that lapse and change and come again upon the earth—these things will always be the same, for they come up from the earth that never changes, they go back into the earth that lasts forever. Only the earth endures, but it endures forever . . . Under the pavements trembling like a pulse, under the buildings trembling like a cry, under the waste of time, under the hoof of the beast above the broken bones of cities, there will be something growing like a flower, something bursting from the earth again, forever deathless, faithful coming into life again like April.
When one flower blooms
it is spring everywhere.
When one flower blooms
it is spring everywhere.
The spiritual properties of the world are subtle . . . The whole earth breathes the divine spirit. When you know this it informs everything you do, every word you say, every act.
Barnaby was what I call "heart smart." While other dogs accompanied me in our intellectual journeys and listened while ideas came in, Barnaby just walked and walked with me, looking at the river or the woods and feeling deep feelings. Rarely have I had a walking companion who could just be silent, not having to make a talking point or a barking commentary. With Barnaby, one barked in silence in which much of a more contemplative nature was communicated -- peace, simplicity, the glory of the natural world, the presence of God.
Touch the Earth, love the Earth, honor the Earth, her plains, her hills, her valleys, and her seas. Rest your spirit in her solitary places.
Nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness
in deep down things;
And though the last
lights off the
black West went
at the brown brink
eastward, springs . . .
Because the Holy Ghost
over the bent
with warm breast
and with ah!
I felt myself a steady, fixed point on the earth round which a whirling gathered and spun a center. Then it was that I seemed to be no one, to belong to no one, and suddenly beholding the russet light of the turning sumach tree in the pasture, I thought,
I am leaf and I am wind and I am light. Something in the world likes faces and leaves and rivers and woods and wind together and makes of them a string of medallions with all our faces on them, worn forever round our necks, kin.
Everything in nature invites us constantly to be what we are.
The old tree of eternal creative life lives with an open heart, very deep roots, and many branches waiting to transform into new life.
All around me the precious quiet of evening and the pungent smell of hay in the air. Above me the starry sky. Such a sweet inner peace fills me and gently takes possession of every fiber of my whole being and existence. And one surrenders to her, great Mother Nature, fully and completely and without reservation, and says with open arms, "Take me."
One's relationship to nature is a deeply personal experience. To some it's best represented by a walk in the park, or along the river, or under a summer night's sky. To others it reaches its pinnacle in the study of a smell, a sound, the sight of a bird's egg, a gray whale, or lodgepole pine. And while all of nature is laid out before us to appreciate, not all is understood, known, or even knowable. But about human nature we do know at least one thing, which is that it embodies an irrepressible and infinite ability to create, to express, to give, and to share.
The whole of Creation is but one sacred temple of the One who created it.
The tiny petal
of a tiny flower
that grew from a tiny pod . . .
Is the miracle
and the mystery
of all creation and God!
Spring is a youthful season coming forth in a rush of life and promise, hope and possibility. At the heart of spring, there is a great inner longing when desire and memory stir toward each other. Consequently, springtime in your soul is a wonderful time to undertake some new adventures, some new project, or to make some important changes in your life; there the rhythm, the energy, and the hidden light of your own clay work with you. You are in the flow of your own growth and potential.
As I was listening I thought about being in conversation with God, and I was struck by how much Bach's Fugue in G-Minor mirrors my relationship with God. When I first began conversing with God, it was very simple. In reply, God did not repeat my melody but responded in a harmonic way, just as Bach has his instruments do. Over time, our conversation -- the Divine and mine -- has built in richness, complexity, depth and beauty, like the fugue builds. Ebb and flow occur in the dynamics of both music and my communication with God, but my soul is constantly stirred by the heartbreaking beauty of what I hear and what I know.
The music that ushered in the cosmos plays on, inside us and around us.
We will never "solve" life, crack its ultimate code, or frame it with consistency. It is forever enigmatic and resists control by words or concepts. What is left to us is the rise and fall of a songline and the vision of a Great White Rose.
Ever in my life have I sought thee with my songs.
It was they who led me from door to door,
and with them I have felt about me,
searching and touching my worlds.
It was my songs that taught me all the lessons I ever learnt;
they showed me secret paths
they brought before my sight
many a star on the horizon of my heart.
Silence and music
Ebb and flow:
Beauty of bird-song,
The silence that follows:
Afterglow which warms the heart
Sets us yearning
For our own soul-song:
Journey in silence
Take the path of Mystery
To the music of your heart.
Sometimes the bird turns away. Sometimes it does not open its mouth to sing. Sometimes it is afraid of the dark. But when it forgets it is afraid and opens its mouth to sing, it fills the world with light.
All one's life is music, if one touches the notes rightly and in time.
Two years ago, I heard about a singing class "for people who think they can't." That described me. I mustered my courage, signed up, and found that with proper instruction, I can sing decently! Every week, the deep breathing exercises inspire me; the songs I sing make me and those around me smile. I now understand what I once read: The Australian aborigines say the world was sung into existence.
We have lost sight of the original harmony: If you could hear the sound that is produced by the sunflower as it keeps on turning its head toward the sun, the friction between the flower and air, and if you could hear the sound produced by the galaxies, you would hear the symphony of the spheres; and you would realize that this symphony is based upon a basic harmony, the harmony of the spheres.
Music is a universal language
Taking our differences away.
And when we stand together singing,
We are all the same.
We will sing a song for every season.
We will sing a simple song of peace.
Dona nobis, dona nobis pacem.
Grant us peace, grant us peace
As I read the prayer I began to sense something amazing. I could hear music, as if someone were playing an instrument in the next room. Then I realized that I wasn't hearing the music with my ears, but with my heart. It was prayer. The prayer was singing itself to me. I picked up my guitar and played along. The music was beautiful, and it continued until I finished the entire song . . . When it was over I realized I had just received an amazing gift. I also knew that one is never given a gift of this magnitude unless one is meant to share it.
Attachment is the loss of freedom . . .
Non-attachment is freedom . . .
Our destiny is to be free.
There is no protection against adversity.
There are no guarantees.
What you have is yourself, made
in the image of something very great,
the Greatest thing.
You have yourself, and
the particular circumstances of your life.
What you create
is your measure of love.
What you create
is up to you.
We choose what we will risk.
But only the freedom that drives the risk matters.
You are free before the sun of the day,
and free before the stars of the night:
And you are free when there is no sun
and no moon and no star.
You are ever free when you close
your eyes upon all that is.
Indivisible oneness is the creative energy that turns a seed into a maple tree, or a watermelon or a human being or anything else that's alive. It's invisible, omnipresent, and absolutely indivisible. We can't divide oneness. Meditation offers us the closest experience we can have of rejoining our Source and being in the oneness at the same time that we're embodied. This means we have to tame our ego.
Through our willingness to be the one we are, we become one with everything.
The mere idea of oneness is not the same as the experience of oneness. The actual experience makes all the difference.
We invent nothing. We borrow and recreate. We uncover and discover. All has been given. . . . We have only to open our eyes and hearts to become one with that which is.
This will be my solitude, to be separated from myself so that I am able to love You alone, to love You so much that I no longer realize I am loving anything. I no longer desire to be myself, but to find myself transformed in You, so that there is no "myself" but only Yourself. That is when I will be what You have willed to make me from all eternity: not myself, but Love.
True meditation is about waking up from the dream of separation to the truth of unity . . . awakening to the realization of what you and everything actually is, the oneness of all. To perceive everything as one is not an altered state of consciousness; it's an unaltered state of consciousness, the natural state of consciousness. Enlightenment is the natural state, the innocent state which is uncontaminated by control or manipulation of mind. We wake up by allowing ourselves to rest in the natural state from the very beginning . . . by "allowing everything to be as it is."
A single Spirit fills infinity. It is that of God, whom nothing limits or divides, who is everywhere entire and nowhere confined
He drew a circle that shut me out -- heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But love and I had the wit to win: we drew a circle that took them in
Survival is the second law of life.
The first is that we are all one.
Great masters live well, not for anticipated personal gain, but for the love of God. Their lives are full of selfless service because they understand that we are all One. It is time for us to perceive ourselves as spiritual beings with physical experiences rather than as physical beings with spiritual experiences.
It does not matter what name you attach to it, but your consciousness must ascend to the point through which you view the universe with your God-centered nature. The feeling accompanying this experience is that of complete oneness with the Universal Whole. One merges into a euphoria of absolute unity with all life . . .
The universe holds its breath as we choose, instant by instant, which pathway to follow; for the universe, the very essence of life itself, is highly conscious. Every act, thought, and choice adds to a permanent mosaic; our decisions ripple through the universe of consciousness to affect the lives of all. Lest this idea be considered merely mystical or fanciful, let's remember that fundamental tenet of the new theoretical physics: Everything in the universe is interconnected, one with everything else. . . . There are no secrets; nothing is hidden, nor can it be. Our spirits stand naked in time for all to see -- everyone's life, finally, is accountable to the universe.
Realize that each soul is related to you.
When you recognize that everyone is part of you,
you will find that you cannot
withdraw from one another.
Realize that we are truly one. We may be different in our cultures, color, beliefs, sizes, shapes, morals, and education, but we have the same feelings of wanting to be loved, accepted, and safe. We want our families and children to be healthy and safe and happy. We all need love in our lives.
A circle of trees . . . I felt I was bringing the journey home to the ordinary dimensions of my life, rooting it in the place I lived every day. I lay back on the earth and looked up through the branches of an oak, feeling suddenly like the sun was my own heart pulsing up there with light. Wind swirled, and it seemed to me it was my own breath billowing through the branches. The crocus bulbs were buried in my tissue, the cedars growing from my body. The birds flew inside me. Stones sat along my bones . . . a jubilant, stunning loss of boundary, a deeper sense of oneness than I’d ever felt.
I knew that I was part of one vast, universal quilt; I knew that this quilt was itself, the Holy Thing, the manifestation of the Divine One. And I loved this universal quilt, every stitch, color, and fiber, with a heartbreaking love. It was one clear moment in time, like going to the Deep Ground that underlies all things and seeing, really seeing, what is and being pierced by the unbounded nature of it.
As we walked in silence a passage from the Bhagavad Gita came to me: "We live in wisdom who see ourselves in all and all in us. We are forever free who have broken out of the ego cage of 'I and mine.' " The Bhagavad Gita described a voice within all of us that tells us each the same thing: what we want is not money, fame, or material possessions, but a world of peace, hearts filled with love, and an earth where the air and water are clean, the environment healthy. We want to rid ourselves of those unwanted habits and negative thoughts that prohibit us from living in peace with ourselves, the environment and our neighbor.
And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.
Holy Mother Earth, the trees and all nature are witnesses of your thoughts and deeds.
All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child.
If only we know, boss, what the stones and rain and flowers say. Maybe they call -- call us -- and we don’t hear them. When will people’s ears open, boss? When shall we have our eyes open to see? When shall we open our arms to embrace everything -- stones, rain, flowers, and men? What d'you think about that, boss? And what do your books have to say about it.
Blessed are the men and women
who are planted on Your earth in Your garden,
Who grow as Your trees and flowers grow,
who transform their darkness to light.
Their roots plunge into darkness;
their faces turn toward the light.
All those who love You are beautiful;
they overflow with Your presence
so that they can do nothing but good.
There is infinite space in Your garden;
all men, all women are welcome here;
all they need do is enter.
Be a gardener.
Dig a ditch,
toil and sweat
and turn the earth upside down
and seek the deepness
and water the plants in time.
Continue this labor
and make sweet floods to run
and noble and abundant fruits
Take this food and drink
and carry it to God
as your true worship.
"It doesn’t matter to most people that the wind sings in the trees or that a mountain shimmers in the sunlight. But you find life in all this, a life you can partake of."
I replied that no one understands nature: a tree bathed in sunlight, a weathered stone, an animal, a mountain, each has life, has a tale to tell, is a life, suffers, endures, experiences joy, dies -- but we
don’t understand it.
This earth is my sister: I love her daily grace, her silent daring, and how loved I am, how we admire this strength in each other, all that we have lost, all that we have suffered, all that we know: we are stunned by this beauty, and I do not forget: what she is to me, what I am to her.
To see all things at their origin, their beginning, puts us in kinship with all that lives: trees, birds, stars seem foreign to us only inasmuch as we perceive them outside of our common origin with them. To drink at the source of all that lives and breathes expands the heart and makes the blood sing, echoing the song of all the vital fluids in the world. To dwell near all beginnings is to draw infinitely near to that which creates both the unity and the diversity of all beings.
The mountains, rivers, earth
grasses, trees, and forests
are always emanating a subtle,
day and night, always emanating
a subtle, precious sound,
demonstrating and expounding
to all people
the unsurpassed, ultimate truth.
Society functions at its very best when each member finds security in their place in the social structure. When all members can be gainfully employed, yet have individual initiative, when they can excel in their own craft and find satisfaction in their work contributing to the overall goals of society, then there exists harmony and a sense of community. When members have an interest in the continuity of their community, great deeds can be accomplished. This is because the many work for the One.
No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it for anyone else.
A hidden river runs beneath the conscious layers of our lives. We become fatigued not from overwork, but from how much energy it takes to stage our lives in order to drown out the sounds of the river inside us.
Ludmilla taught me that we can pray anywhere, during any kind of work that is being done attentively and well and to the best of our ability. In such work, God is present. We only have to know this and try to give it our heart. Many people wish to have spiritual development without obstacles or even effort, and so they will never understand God’s love or the poverty of our humanity.
"We don’t really have to do a perfect job."
"Nobody will be able to tell, though."
"That’s not the point, not the point at all. The old masters didn't care whether anyone could see their flaws or not. They wanted to do as well as they could, because their work was a gift to God, who deserved their best. That’s all gone; now what's important is whether anyone will notice the difference, and how much it will all cost. It changes the spirit of the building forever."
To do work carefully and well, with love and respect for the nature of my task and with due attention to its purpose, is to unite myself with God's will in my work. I become an instrument for God to work through me.
The manner in which we carry out all our work has a direct bearing on our spiritual health.
If only he could work faster. Yet if he did work faster, how could he produce paintings grounded in deep beds of contemplation, the only way living things could be stilled long enough to understand them? And wasn't everything he painted--a breadbasket, a pitcher, a jewelry box, a copper pan--wasn’t it all living?
It is not vast quantities of mechanical work that appeals to the Divine, but it is the link with the divine consciousness established through that work that matters. This consideration of the spirit in which the work is done is of the utmost relevance to all of us who want to progress toward divine consciousness. When one is conscious during work, that quality of consciousness is naturally imparted to what one is working with or upon. Such work retains the vibration of that person and they link others immediately with that cause.
If we open up to our vitality and to the sense of urgency that flows within us, we will have the pleasure of experiencing ourselves living and working in cooperation with the deepest forces of life.
If artistic creations emerge from our lives and the ways in which we see the world, then it seems useful to engage the workplace as a source of creative subject matter and energy. The job is the place where most of us spend time and expend effort each day. It is the world we inhabit, and I believe we can make it better and more satisfying through the conscious use of the creative process. . . . Our creations and our lives are enhanced when we realize that everything in our environment is a source for imagination.
The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.
To learn to concentrate without effort
and to transform work into play
I need to have and hold a zone of silence
in my soul.
When Henry wove a rug, he wove from the depths of his spirit and from the fullness of his heart, and with the careful eye of a focused mind. Directly across from his upright loom, at eye level on the concave wall of the hut, Henry had lettered a small sign for his own inspiration: BY THEIR WORKS YE SHALL KNOW THEM. And more, it was a reminder that his remission from consumption, he believed, had come as a consequence of work with his hands. Work for him was the very stuff of salvation and healing. For that reason, whenever he should write or type or spell the word "work" for any reason, he would use an uppercase "W" as its beginning.
We are at liberty to be real or unreal, to be about truth or untruth. We really do have a choice. We are talking here about a felt knowledge, inner awareness, knowings that come out of the quiet, from a deep place within. Our truth is just ours. And we believe it is wise to be leery of anyone who [claims] to hold ALL truth -- even organizations, ministries, and leaders whose values we admire. A part of the journey into freedom is examining the truths upon which we have built our lives and discovering that we have choices about who we follow, where we put our time and money. And our choices, our truths, make us who we are.
The soul is the perceiver and revealer of truth.
Whoever deeply searches out the truth and will not be deceived by paths untrue, shall turn unto himself his inward gaze, shall bring his wandering thoughts in circle home and teach his heart that what it seeks abroad, it holds in its own treasure chests within.
Truth is a shining goddess, always veiled, always distant,
never wholly approachable, but worthy of all the
devotion of which the human spirit is capable.
In all ten directions of the universe,
there is only one truth.
When we see clearly,
the great teachings are the same.
What can ever be lost? What can be obtained?
If we attain something, it was there from
the beginning of time.
If we lost something,
it is hiding somewhere near us.
Truth is within ourselves; it takes no rise from
outward things, what e’er you may believe.
There is an inmost center in us all,
Where truth abides in fullness . . . and to know,
Rather consists in opening out a way
Whence the imprisoned splendor may escape,
Than in effecting entry for a light
supposed to be without.
Let us humbly remember that absolute truth exists only
in the mind of God. We human beings are forever searching.
Happy are those who, while possessing the truth, search more earnestly for it in order to renew it, deepen it, and transmit it to others. Happy also are those who, not having found truth, are working toward it with a sincere heart.
The word integrity has two meanings. The first is "honesty"... We have to be honest in facing our limitations, in facing the sheer complexity of the world, honest in facing criticism even of things which are deeply precious to us. But integrity also means wholeness, oneness, the desire for single vision, the refusal to split our minds into separate compartments where incompatible ideas are not allowed to come into contact. An undivided mind looks in the end for an undivided truth, a oneness at the heart of things. The whole intellectual quest, despite its fragmentation, despite its limitations and uncertainties, seems to presuppose that in the end we are all encountering a single reality, and a single truth.
Trust that truth whether good or bad, pretty or ugly, is
still truth . . . the knowledge of anything true brings
freedom and empowerment back to oneself.
Somebody once said that if you really seek the truth, whatever road you travel, sooner or later you come to God.
Luminous is the word of Truth; like
a laser beam, it cuts through
ignorance and illusion. . . .
Blessed are those who choose Truth.
Their path is made straight,
their spirit freed to soar.
The task of the peacemaker is to speak the truth, whether our culture wants to hear it or not. As we speak the truth in a spirit of love and peace, we will realize deeper levels of truth and begin to understand the great truth of human unity and God’s way of nonviolence. The pursuit of truth ultimately is the pursuit of God.
To the dull mind nature is leaden. To the illumined mind
the whole world burns and sparkles with light.
I know the thrill of the grasses when the rain pours over them.
I know the trembling of the leaves when the winds sweep through them.
I know what the white clover felt as it held a drop of dew pressed close in its beauteousness.
I know the quivering of the fragrant petals at the touch of the pollen-legged bees.
I know what the stream said to the dipping willows, and what the moon said to the sweet lavender.
I know what the stars said when they came stealthily down and crept fondly into the tops of the trees.
Nature is the signature of God.
To the dull mind nature is leaden. To the illumined mind
the whole world burns and sparkles with light.
I think joy and sweetness and affection are a spiritual path. We're here to know God, to love and serve God, and to be blown away by the beauty and miracle of nature. You just have to get rid of so much baggage to be light enough to dance, to sing, to play. You don't have time to carry grudges; you don't have time to cling to the need to be right.
I know of no sculpture, painting or music that exceeds the compelling spiritual command of the soaring shape of granite cliff and dome, of patina of light on rock and forest, and of the thunder and whispering of the falling, flowing waters.
The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.
The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.
in the world
is usual today.
the first morning.
Come quickly -- as soon as
these blossoms open,
This world exists
as a sheen of dew on flowers.
Nature has some perfections, to show us that she is the image of God; and some imperfections to show us that she is only God's image. . . .
Summer evenings –
Walking this garden path
Spring can be the most difficult season of the year catching us between the rising tide of life and the damp caverns of memory that lie among the sleepy roots of our being. It is time to attend the soil that has lain fallow for many months -- we are, after all, animated ground. April can be an agitating month, leaving us to ride out this new, insistent life from places inside us never before reached. Kites, in the driven skies, tug at thin strings that tether them to earth, just as our souls tug at our bodies. Swallows and purple martins dive heart-stoppingly into the emptiness. Something light and lithe in us responds. . . . We are, after all, much more than rational beings.
If you only sit and reflect on the wonders of nature, you will gradually begin to feel that everything happens by divine will and power.
What we are looking for on earth and in earth and in our lives is the process that can unlock for us the mystery of meaningfulness in our daily lives. It has been the best-kept secret down through the ages because it is so simple. Truly, the last place it would ever occur to most of us to find the sacred would be in the commonplace of our everyday lives and all about us in nature and in simple things.
Every spring Nature writes a fresh, new chapter in the Book of Genesis.
The grand show is eternal.
It is always sunrise somewhere;
the dew is never dried all at once;
a shower is forever falling;
vapor is ever rising.
Eternal sunrise, eternal dawn and gloaming,
on sea and continents and islands,
each in its turn,
as the round earth rolls.
We do not see nature with our eyes, but with our understanding and our hearts . . .
Let us ponder over this basic truth till we are steeped in it, till it becomes as familiar to us as our awareness of shapes or our reading of words: God, at the most vitally active and most incarnate, is not remote from us, wholly apart from the sphere of the tangible; on the contrary, at every moment God awaits us in the activity, the work to be done, which every moment brings. God is, in a sense, at the point of my pen, my pick, my paint-brush, my needle – and my heart and my thought. It is by carrying to its natural completion the stroke, the line, the stitch I am working on that I shall lay hold on that ultimate end towards which my will at its deepest levels tends.
Follow your heart-song: your work and life's joy will flow as one in the service of Love.
Each of us has something within us that needs to be expressed. It may be the desire to play an instrument, paint landscapes, climb mountains, or grow prize-winning chrysanthemums. Whatever that desire is, it comes from our heart and reflects our own unique gifts and abilities. . . .
We can truly be successful only in the work to which we have been called. The work is not ours. It is God's, and we are privileged to be worked through by God . . . How foolish, then, for anyone to think and proclaim that he has a certain work to do for God. God may have a certain work to do through him, that is if he is sufficiently humble, but that is quite a different thing . . .
I slept and dreamt that life was joy
I woke and saw that life was service
I acted and behold! service was joy.
It is not easy to distinguish between doing what we are called to do and doing what we want to do. Our many wants can easily distract us from our true action. True action leads us to the fulfillment of our vocation. . . . Actions that lead to overwork, exhaustion, and burnout can't praise and glory God. What God calls us to do we can do and do well. When we listen in silence to God's voice and speak with our friends in trust we will know what we are called to do. We will do it with a grateful heart.
Your job in the scheme of things is unique and designed especially for you. Your job is something you will be happy doing . . . You can begin to do your job in life by doing all the good things you feel motivated toward, even though they are just little things. . . .
It puzzles people at first, to see how little the able leader actually does,
and yet how much gets done.
But the leader knows that is how things work. After all, Tao does nothing at all,
yet everything gets done.
When the leader gets too busy,
the time has come to return to
Selflessness gives one center.
Center creates order.
When there is order, there is little to do.
Pavarotti retains a kind of religious, mystical, commitment to his "work.” And he insists on referring to it as "work,” claiming: "You can always love your work; your profession, at best, you can exercise.” Few people realize that the joyful tenor, the man who is always smiling, is almost a cloistered monk . . .
A spirituality of work is based on a heightened sense of sacramentality, of the idea that everything that is, is holy and that our hands consecrate it to the service of God. . . when we care for everything we touch and touch it reverently, we become the creators of a new universe. Then we sanctify our work and our work sanctifies us.
A spirituality of work puts us in touch with our own creativity. . . Work enables us to put our personal stamp of approval . . . the autograph of our souls on the development of the world. . .
A spirituality of work draws us out of ourselves and, at the same time, makes us more of what we are meant to be. Good work . . . develops qualities of compassion and character in me.
My work also develops everything around it. There is nothing I do that does not affect the world in which I live. In developing a spirituality of work, I learn to trust beyond reason that good work will gain good things for the world, even when I don't expect them and I can't see them.
Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.
Recall the kind of feeling you have when you succeed, when you have made it, when you get to the top, when you win a game or an argument. And contrast it with the kind of feeling you get when you really enjoy the job you are doing, you are absorbed in, the action you are currently engaged in. . . . Notice the qualitative difference between the worldly feeling and the soul feeling. . . . Now attempt to understand the true nature of worldly feelings—of self-promotion, self-glorification. They are not natural, they were invented by your society and your culture to make you productive and to make you controllable. These feelings do not produce the nourishment and happiness that is produced when one contemplates nature or enjoys the company of one's friends or one's work. They were meant to produce thrills, excitement—and emptiness.
Our cup of sorrow and joy, when lifted for others to see and celebrate, becomes a cup to life . . . Mostly, we are willing to look back at our lives and say: "I am grateful for the good things that brought me to this place.” But when we lift our cup to life, we must dare to say: "I am grateful for all that has happened to me and led me to this moment. This gratitude which embraces all or our past is what makes our life a true gift for others, because this gratitude erases bitterness, resentments, regret, and revenge as well as all jealousies and rivalries. It transforms our past into a fruitful gift for the future, and makes our life, all of it, into a life that gives life.
If the only prayer we say to God is "thank you,” that is enough.
As life becomes harder and more threatening, it also becomes richer, because the fewer expectations we have, the more good things of life become unexpected gifts that we accept with gratitude.
If others could tell you the shortest, surest way to all happiness and perfection, they must tell you to make a rule to yourself to thank and praise God for every that happens to you. For it is certain that whatever calamity happens to you, if you thank and praise God for it, you turn it into a blessing . . .
Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy—because we will always want to have something else or something more.
Gratitude helps you to grow and expand. Gratitude brings joy and laughter into your lives and into the lives of all those around you.
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 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 whomever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.
Darkness deserves gratitude. It is the alleluia point at which we learn to understand that all growth does not take place in the sunlight.
Gratitude for the gift of life is the primary wellspring of all religions, the hallmark of the mystic, the source of all true art….It is a privilege to be alive in this time when we can choose to take part in the self-healing of our world.
The people who are successful are those who are grateful for everything they have . . . Giving thanks for what we have always opens the door for more to come, and ungratefulness always closes the door . . .
All great questions must be raised by great voices, and the greatest voice is the voice of the people - speaking out - in prose, or painting or poetry or music; speaking out - in homes and halls, streets and farms, courts and cafes - let that voice speak and the stillness you hear will be the gratitude of mankind.
I'm thankful for a pair of shoes that feel really good on my feet; I like my shoes. I'm thankful for the birds; I feel like they're singing just for me when I get up in the morning… Saying, 'Good morning, John. You made it, John.' I'm thankful for the sea breeze that feels so good right now, and the scent of jasmine when the sun starts going down. I'm thankful . . .
The gratitude that we encounter helps us believe in the goodness of the world, and strengthens us thereby to do what's good.
One day builds on another. Our lives accumulate in increments of moments, hours, and days. Everything depends on this present moment and our courage to turn aside in delight, wonder, and gratitude.
May you appreciate the unfolding of your creative joy as your imagination soars. May you leap for joy with faith in God's timing . . . May you let go of bitterness, and allow forgiveness to graciously fill your life. May you experience joy in the moment, and move forth with the word of God. May playfulness infuse the serious purpose of your life. And may you share the joy of that play and laughter so that others, too, might find happiness.
Joy is the echo of God's life in us.
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy
We see into the life of things.
Always, when we are still, we may hear the song of Life pouring joyously through our consciousness. We have only to listen, for it is always there. If we would catch the vision of the joy meant to be ours, we must dry our tears, lay aside our fears, and think from the inspirational center within us, which is nothing less than the Divine singing its song of life.
Barnaby was like a mood, a fragrance of the harmonious inner life, permeating everything with which he came into contact. He knew sorrow and he knew joy, and he held them in a delicate balance of serenity and peace. He knew how to respond equally joyfully to an invitation to walk or talk or sit together, which seems to me to be a particular kind of training in grace -- a willingness to respond easily and happily to even the most modest adventure together. Perhaps it could be said that within his framework of being a dog, he lived life as a spiritual exercise.
Joy is wisdom, time an endless song.
I praise You in the silence
of my heart,
for your steadfast love,
O my Beloved;
I offer prayers of gratitude
O Holy One of the universe .
My heart leaps for joy, as
I whisper to You
in the night --
my soul also, which You
renew within me.
Dance, my heart! Dance today with joy.
The strains of love fill the days and the
nights with music, and the world is
listening to its melodies.
Made with joy, life and death dance to
the rhythm of this music. The hills
and the sea and the earth dance.
The world of man dances in laughter and tears.
Why put on the robe of the monk, and
live aloof from the world in lonely pride?
Behold! My heart dances in the delight of
a hundred arts; and the Creator
is well pleased.
The only true joy on earth is to escape from the prison of our own fake self and enter by Love into union with the Life who dwells and sings with the essence of every creature and in the core of our own souls.
We know joy when we are happy to take from life what is given. When we experience the joy of the soul and higher states of consciousness, this joy is the essence of completion and fulfillment. There is nothing that can add to it or take away from it. Joy is our natural state.
"You sense the pure joy from her. And it's nice to touch that. Because we're all so skeptical -- I know I am. But even the skeptics begin to believe in God just because she's so happy. And it's not like she's preaching. This woman is just joy and happiness, period. . . . The first time you meet her, you think she's not real, not normal. But in twenty years I've never seen her change. There's an exuberance about her relationship with God, her relationship with people. Just joy, happiness, love. It's what we're born to be, and wish we could be."
For this joy is close to you,
it is in you!
None of you has a spirit so heavy
nor an intelligence so feeble,
none of you is so far from God
not to be able to find this joy
Joy is a piercing desire, a mystical longing both painful and sweet: a kind of homesickness for a home we scarcely remember.
Joy has the power to open our hearts, remove fear, instill hope, and foster healing. Joy leads us to wisdom, because it connects us to all we are -- our mind, heart, power, and spirit. Joy stimulates our immune system, increases our energy, and gives us mental clarity. It helps us heighten our level of consciousness so we can more readily tap our inner wisdom. Instead of agonizing over decisions, we become more able to simply listen within and know what to do.
The beating heart of the universe is holy joy.
We are all native speakers of the language of life. To talk with what lives, we have to listen patiently and quietly for a long time. We have to listen in a place where we can hear, where the sounds of the living world are louder than the sounds of the machine world. If we have the patience and the silence we can begin to hear. If many of us listen, many of us will hear. We will learn the language of the living Earth, and it will become our language again.
Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God.
Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God.
There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.
Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own; and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, is a succession of changes so gentle and easy we can scarcely mark their progress . . .
And this, our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
There is in all visible things an invisible fecundity, a dimmed light, a meek namelessness, a hidden wholeness. This mysterious unity and integrity is wisdom . . . There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence that is a foundation of action and joy. It rises up in gentleness and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being.
Nature brings beauty to every time and season.
Thus weave for us
a garment of brightness
That we may walk fittingly
where grass is green,
O our mother the earth,
O our father the sky.
Magic birds were dancing
in the mystic marsh.
The grass swayed with them,
and the shallow waters,
and the earth fluttered under them.
The earth was dancing with the cranes,
and the low sun, and the wind and sky.
Nature is too thin a screen; the glory of the omnipresent God bursts through everywhere.
The need is for the connection to nature within ourselves; only then can we understand how to act toward nature outside ourselves. Along with the obvious crimes our culture is committing against the natural world, we would be wise to remember that the main crimes are the crimes against our inner nature. From these inner crimes all the outer evil arises. This is the teaching of wisdom.
It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know of wonder and humility.
No matter what the weather looks like outside the window, life is warming up. Something in nature knows what it is doing; even if from time to time winter icily touches the napes of our necks with its cold fingers. . . . Woods will fill with black-birds and grackles, and swollen buds will cling like small birds to wet branches. . . . Old oaks sleep as long as they can, while the rest of creation exhibits an aching restlessness to move on. As everything begins to move, an almost forgotten song plays in our chests, the music of beginning again. The early small birds flit here and there on the rising winds; a lone, red-winged blackbird sits unmoving in the empty cherry tree . . . waiting . . . To live is to change, to move through one transition after another, to reinvent one's life, as needed. . . .
Come quickly -- as soon as these blossoms open, they fall. This world exists as a sheen of dew on flowers.
Nature's intent is neither food, nor drink, nor clothing, nor comfort, nor anything else in which God is left out. Whether you like it or not, whether you know it or not, secretly nature seeks, hunts, tries to ferret out the track on which God may be found. . .
I believe we are part of the universal rhythmic process because we're all a part of nature--we are in it and of it. So like the ingoing and outgoing waves, we breathe in a similar way--we flow. Cosmic creativity and creative evolution are always going on. Everything is always singing.
God is a glimpse into the meaning of the totality of human experiences, where we recognize that we are part of an ultimate grasping after a universal consciousness with which we are one and in which we are whole. . . . God is present whenever a person transcends human boundaries and sees the portrait of unity, not separation. God is the journey beyond the fear of loneliness into a new wholeness . . .
The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.
When will we once again be one? Perhaps galaxy by galaxy, solar system by solar system, planet by planet, all creation must be redeemed. Where were we when the morning stars sang together, and all the children of God shouted for joy?
. . for the world's well-being and for our own individual well-being, we need to know that all things are interwoven and that each strand in the tapestry is holy. We need to know that our distinct races, our countless species, our many wisdom traditions, our children, and the men and women of every nation are wonderful "outbursts of singularity," each carrying within them the life of the One.
A sacred breath radiating Love unifies the divine web of life.
Any broken part affects all of Creation.
Happy in the morning
I open my cottage door;
A clear breeze blowing
Comes straight in.
The first sun
Lights the leafy trees;
The shadows it casts
Are crystal clear.
In accord with my heart,
In one harmony . . .
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
All things share the same breath - the beast, the tree, the human, the air . .
A powerful meditation when contemplating the oneness of everything is to find something's unique qualities. For example, observing an island's wholeness and then focusing upon the uniqueness of a single stone. . . . this meditation is simple but powerful. . . . Other examples to meditate upon (other than an individual stone on the island beach) are faces in a crowd or a leaf on a tree. Each person (in the crowd) is unique and yet (at that very moment) part of the whole. The same is true for leaves on the trees. Practicing this deceptively easy meditation helps each of us to see reality.
Only when we have the courage to cross the road and look in one another's eyes can we see there that we are children of the same God and members of the same human family.
All this is simply to say that all life is interrelated. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality; tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. As long as there is poverty in this world, no one can be totally rich even with a billion dollars. As long as diseases are rampant and millions of people cannot expect to live more than twenty or thirty years, no one can be totally healthy, even with a clean bill of health from the finest clinic in America. Strangely enough, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the way the world is made.
The world is one country, and humankind its citizens.
The human race is a single being
Created from one jewel.
If one member is struck
All must feel the blow.
Only someone who cares for the pain of others
Can truly be called human.
. . . as I move out into the world, I live out my uniqueness, but when I dare to look into my core, I come upon the one common center where all lives begin. In that center, we are one and the same. In this way, we live out the paradox of being both unique and the same. For mysteriously and powerfully, when I look deep enough into you, I find me, and when you dare to hear my fear in the recess of your heart, you recognize it as your secret that you thought no one else knew. And that unexpected wholeness that is more than each of us, but common to all—that moment of unity is the atom of God.
The older we grow, the more we tend to become set in our habits, our outlooks on life, our mental assessments of possibilities. The more flexibly balanced we become, the less chaos we encounter. Harmony is not created by having only one musical tune, but by the blending of many tunes that create a symphony of sound. Individual tunes work together, creating beauty rather than discord. Balance is found in living harmoniously, with flexibility and periods of silence, accepting events as part of the mystery unfolding in our lives.
Each one of us is called to become the Great Song that comes out of the Silence.
Mozart's music belongs to all humanity, for the feelings that it expresses are not only his own. Carried to the spiritual elevation that universal symbols require, the symphony is untainted by petty individualism. The music belongs to the world of hope and serenity, not to any particular religion. His work was never a cry but rather a continual revelation. Love, light, and death are one in his music, to such a degree that a single theme sometimes contains all these. Mozart apprehends the human being, their feelings, pain, and hope, then, he leaves us alone in the light, facing the revelation of his own reason for being.
Music, when soft voices die,
Vibrates in the memory.
Lying on my back under the starlit sky, I gave myself up completely to the lovely sounds of Irish music. It was a magical sound, I said, beating with my fingers happily and humming the tunes. The music stopped for a few minutes while the musicians rested. As I lay motionless in the silence of the night, I listened to the quiet voice of my heart. "Music is free," it said. "Music belongs to everyone. You only have to listen." Some knowledge is full of bliss.
bird songs in the breeze
window to window
Music can not only help you access aspects of yourself you may have long forgotten, it can also help you grow qualities of yourself that are not yet fully developed.
When one finally arrives at the point where schedules are forgotten, and becomes immersed in ancient rhythms, one begins to live.
"There they go, chanting again."
"Maybe that is what really matters," Equitius said.
"What? The chanting?"
"You. Constantly getting in touch with God. Getting others to do it, too. They sing with their hearts, these people. For all I know, they may keep the world alive by what they're doing."
The houses are clean and white, and great trees stand among them and spread over them. The fields lie around the town, divided by rows of such trees as stand in the town and in the woods, each field more beautiful than all the rest. Over town and fields the one great song sings, and is answered everywhere; every leaf and flower and grass blade sings. And in the fields and the town, walking, standing, or sitting under the trees, resting and talking together in the peace of a Sabbath profound and bright, are people of such beauty that he weeps to see them. He sees that these are the membership of one another and of the place and of the song or light in which they live and move.
This is the greatest skill of all, to take the bitter with the sweet and make it beautiful, to take the whole of life in all its moods, its strengths and weaknesses, and of the whole make one great and celestial harmony.
There are songs in stone as well as in sound, which overflow with rejoicing at the bountiful riches of Creation. . . . We need silences to be free from the words that come between us and reality. We need silence to still our chattering minds and focus on the new creation to which we are constantly giving birth. There is a music to silence and a dance within stillness which is lacking in our lives and communities.
Music is the harmonious voice of creation;
an echo of the invisible world.
Our main task in life is to give birth to ourselves, to become what we potentially are.
Dr. Torres had never seen teeth as bad as those he saw at La Mesa. "This stuff wasn't in any of my books." He noticed that the worst problems often belonged to the toughest men and women in the prison, and even the hardest cases cried when he showed them their new teeth in the mirror.
Some of the inmates he worked on still stay in touch with him. "They call me all the time and tell me, 'Hey, I'm working over here, I'm working over there,'" he says. "The jobs are no big deal, but they're working, which they couldn't do before, because people didn't accept them. Nobody except Mother Antonia cared for them."
When we are willing to commit to 51% service to self and 48% to others, we have achieved a balance that allows us to be effective in life. Whether we have service-related jobs or volunteer makes no difference. The commitment to making our world a better place for everyone is the key to any job. On one level, we agree to be role models, and because of that devotion to being our personal best, we are forced to examine our personal integrity, our willingness to change and grow, and our commitment to doing what is needed when it is needed, serving with a peace-filled heart.
The goal of singing a song is not to reach the end as quickly as possible. It is a state of creating harmony, beauty, growth and understanding. The goal of work, as a sacred art, is to use the need for a product or service to develop the greatest possible power on the object, and the users. Sacred work puts the mind on service to the heart as well.
At the heart of silence is prayer.
At the heart of prayer is faith.
At the heart of faith is life.
At the heart of life is service.
Work of sight is done.
Now do heart work
on the pictures within you.
Selflessness gives one center.
Center creates order.
When there is order, there is little to do.
The great work of life is not to save the world but to attain God Realization which, by being in the process of doing so, you have a tremendously powerful and positive effect on the world condition and consciousness.
Leonardo da Vinci knew that God helps those who help themselves and that this could be hard work. The labor that brings us all good things is more than just our effort in the outer world — it is a reflection of our inner work and ethical awareness. Leonardo's prayer illustrated this: "Thou, O God, dost sell unto us all good things at the price of labor."
The environment which I feel to be the natural one, the situation which has been assigned to me as my fate, the things that happen to me day after day, the things that claim me day after day -- these contain my essential task and such fulfillment of existence as is open to me... The Baal Shem teaches that no encounter with a being or a thing in the course of our life lacks a hidden significance. The people we live with or meet with, the animals that help us with our farm work, the soil we till, the materials we shape, the tools we use, they all contain a mysterious spiritual substance which depends on us for helping it towards its pure form, its perfection. If we neglect this spiritual substance sent across our path, if we think only in terms of momentary purposes, without developing a genuine relationship to the beings and things in whose life we ought to take part, as they in ours, then we shall ourselves be debarred from true fulfilled existence.
I finally came to know that my work is God's work, unfinished by God because God meant it to be finished by me.
Work offered with love
by a soul at peace
breaks through the darkness
so the light shines through:
One heart blessing all hearts.
Spirit and work are linked among indigenous people because human work is viewed as an intensification of the work that Spirit does in nature... Individuals, as extensions of Spirit, come into the world with a purpose. At its core, the purpose of an individual is to bring beauty, harmony, and communion to earth.
To seek out beauty in our work is to make a pilgrimage of our labors, to understand that the consummation of work lies not only in what we have done, but who we have become while accomplishing the task.
I said to my soul, be still, and wait... In the darkness shall be the light And the stillness the dancing.
And Joy is Everywhere;
It is in the Earth's green covering of grass,
In the blue serenity of the sky.
I carve cathedrals
with the sweep of my arms
I turn whirlwinds of change
I center and ground
deep bend to the earth
recenter and move
scooping sorrow like birds
each motion rebalancing somehow
earth and sky
self and divine
sacred love and sacred growth
temple dancer's work
spinning the world into balance
exhausted heap I fall
To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak.
All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child. And children know what we adults often forget, that is—our bodies are made to move, to "embody" our joy, to keep us in touch with our own breath and pulse, and to make us feel alive.
Do you have a body? Don't sit on the porch! Go out and walk in the rain!
We laugh together like we never have before. Her face radiates pure joy. She's a good little dancer, music in her blood...maybe a word from God. She's so happy and strong , despite her world crumbling around her, that I can only gaze in awe. She leaps into the air, giving shape to the music that reposes in all matter, just waiting to be released. She liberates the music and, in her innocence, cannot know what she has done and thereby is all the stronger. Is God speaking to this tired old heart? Is God saying, "Look — don't you get it? She's as marvelous as a galaxy. You have nothing to fear. If I can call her into being, there's nothing I can't do. Now dance. Dance!"
Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain.
The first thing that must change is that in me which insists upon the smaller view of myself and tries to make that permanent... I watch my personality from the reality behind it. In that moment I am no longer identified with ego. Spirit begins to emerge and know itself. The dance changes! I no longer dance to become worthy or prove my value. I do not dance to measure up or earn that which has belonged to me all along. I dance because I dance.
Dance is the hidden language of the soul.
One sound seldom heard on a prison yard is the sound of someone singing. Yet, unmistakably, I heard the joyful voice of my inmate friend, Ed, singing in the dormitory shower. It was positively liberating to hear him sing, totally immersed in the music.
Having no material goods, no family, and serious health problems, Ed confided that he has no reason whatsoever to be happy and sing like that. He said, "I have a happy spirit and it's just natural to sing and dance."
Nothing is more commendable than to live lyrically, to make our lives a continuous song of experience...To let go into the music, to dance, to spin and sway as the sounds resound in your bones, to feel your feet grow lighthearted as they sweep you along to the rhythm of the music, is to touch into the harmonies of the soul.
Our life is shorter than flowers.
Then shall we mourn?
No, we shall dance
Dress in colors
And teach our children
To make the world more beautiful.
Because our life
Is shorter than flowers.
I see dance being used as communication between body and soul to express what is too deep to find words.
Joy, love and compassion are essential ingredients in spiritual growth. We are enriched by their nurturing, and our world is enriched by their actualization. Profound joy is a celebration of our vision of connectedness, a vision that dissolves division and the myth of separation. We must let our hearts dance and rejoice with love and compassion and yearn wholeheartedly for oneness and wholeness.
Dance is meditation in movement, a walking into silence where every movement becomes prayer.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
When all striving ceases
I awaken to behold
Keeping silent watch.
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
Each age has its own tasks. For most of us now, our monasteries have no walls except the silence our meditation gathers to the center of our lives, and this is enough—it is more than enough. Our hermitage is the act of living with attention in the midst of things; amid the rhythms of work and love, the bath with the child, the endlessly growing paperwork, the ever-present likelihood of war, the necessity for taking action to help the world. For us, a good spiritual life is permeable and robust. It faces things squarely knowing the smallest moments are all we have, and that even the smallest moment is full of happiness.
All of my life has been a relearning to pray—a letting go of incantational magic, petition, and vain repetition ""Me Lord, me," instead of watching attentively for the light that burns at the center of every star, every cell, every living creature, every human heart.
The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.
Because of my blindness, I had developed a new faculty. Strictly speaking, we all have it, but almost all forget to use it. That faculty is attention. In order to live without eyes it is necessary to be very attentive, to remain hour after hour in a state of wakefulness, of receptiveness and activity. Indeed, attention is not simply a virtue of intelligence or the result of education, and something one can easily do without. It is a state of being . . . a state without which we shall never know wholeness. In its truest sense it is the listening post of the universe.
When I fully enter time's swift current, enter into the current moment with the weight of all my attention, I slow the torrent with the weight of me all here.
If I were to begin life again, I should want it as it was. I would only open my eyes a little more...
Whenever she turned her steep focus to me, I felt the warmth that flowers must feel when they bloom through the snow, under the first concentrated rays of the sun.
Maybe the burning bush was burning all the time and Moses didn't notice. Maybe the miracle is when you stop and pay attention.
In my life-long impatience, how much I have missed. Last night, washing the dishes, I really looked at my iron frying pan in the dishwater. The light made visible for a moment a tiny rainbow—a light through water revealing all the colors of life. It is so easy to miss the tiny symbols. Finding them is quite different from the business of trying to hatch up big symbolic experiences. It is RECOGNITION, not PURSUIT, of meaning—recognition of the sacramental, of the intersection of the two worlds, breaking through unsought because one is ATTENDING.
The practice of paying attention is the rarest of gifts because it depends upon the harshest of disciplines. So uncommon is it for us to grasp the beauty and mystery of ordinary things that, when we finally do so, it often brings us to the verge of tears. Appalled by our own poverty, we awake in wonder to a splendor of which we had never dreamed.
The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.
Part of being human is to experience moments of true perception about those things that touch you so intimately that suddenly you see. What you see (or read or hear) at such moments has a ring of truth about it, not just of a general kind but as something that takes on a dimension and depth for you so that it becomes your truth. It seems to be making a claim on you. Such moments don't come often. Hold on to them. Cherish them until they become so much a part of you as to be second nature. For there is only one persistent demand made upon us by the Spirit. It is that we are receptive. That we keep our eyes open, our minds unclosed. It is, in short, that we retain all our lives our sense of wonder.
Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.
Sow in me your living breath,
As you sow a seed in the earth.
your way of knowing is amazing!
The way you recognize every creature
even before it appears.
The way you gaze into the face
of every human being
and see all your works gazing back at you.
O what a miracle
to be awake inside your breathing.
I am the Breath inside the breath.
Every breath we draw is a gift…every moment of existence is a grace.
Meditation is when it is clear to you that God is closer to you than your own breath.
Breath is crucial for life. Physical respiration goes on as a largely unconscious process as the body exchanges oxygen and carbon dioxide to power the activities of every cell in our bodies. Deliberate deep breathing will ensure that we take in enough oxygen and can calm feelings of breathlessness or fear. Conscious breathing used as part of a spiritual practice focuses the mind's attention and helps relieve stress on our bodies.
Every breath is a sacrament, an affirmation of our connection with all other living things, a renewal of our link with our ancestors and a contribution to generations yet to come. Our breath is a part of life's breath, the ocean of air that envelopes the earth.
All is contained in the Divine Breath
Like the day in the morning's dawn.
Breath animates the clay of our being. It is the lusty cry of the newborn, and the essence of wind, spirit, muse, sound...Everything "breathes." Think of the woods on a spring day, the sussuration of leaves, the rippling grasses, the trembling of dappled light.
The first thing we did when we incarnated was inhale the breath of life. Enlightenment is that gap between inhale and exhale where we become so aware. Be where you have nothing to do…in the inner silence that takes us into deep inner wisdom. When we focus deep within, we allow our inner power to come forth — the great wisdom we carry at our depths and the knowledge of what is our own unique contribution to humanity. Then, being mindful of our breath takes us into the outer world with more awareness.
Regards to the day, the great long day
That can't be hoarded, good or ill.
What breathes in us likely means us well.
We rise up from an earthly root
To seek the blossom of the heart.
What breathes in us likely means us well.
We are a voice impelled to tell
Where the joining of sound and silence is.
We are the tides and their witnesses.
What breathes in us likely means us well.
God is dynamically present in every breath and heartbeat. In each breath we draw, the Spirit gives life. Learning to reclaim the deep, nourishing breaths of infancy is part of basic training not only in health and movement classes, but in prayer and meditation practices around the world. The deep, full breathing required to sing may well have similar importance in praying well: nothing reminds us more literally than inbreathing and outbreathing that we continually receive life and must continually release what we have received in order to receive again.
Breathe deeply amidst the beauties of nature;
absorb vibrations unsullied by
pollution and cosmopolitan ways...
As you breathe in silence,
your ear attunes to Spirit.
You will understand the eagle.
Breathe deeply! Breathe life!
Any act of giving brings healing and joy.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
The words "wow" and "awe" are the same height and width, all w's and short vowels. They could dance together. Even when, maybe especially when, we don't cooperate, this energy—the breath, the glory, the goodness of God—is given.
Waiting tests our grit and faith, and anything else we have on the line. We activate every nerve in us to move, to do something—and then we wait. But if we wait a little longer with patience and endurance, we will know what to do. During this period, we can stir up the gifts that are in us, encourage ourselves to be strong and calm, to find a calm center in the midst of all the whirling debris around us. When we can wait with joy, it connects us to the right things, puts us in the right place to receive. Joy is not of the emotions but of the spirit, and it can bubble up and grow in our weakest moments.
I was walking down the street in New York City one day, when I heard a woman's voice saying, "I was very sick all winter." Intrigued, I turned around and saw the woman handing a street person, sitting on the sidewalk, some money. She went on talking to him. "I had pneumonia, and every time I started to get better, I'd have a relapse. Now I am finally really getting better, and I just wanted to share the joy."
From the deep well of silence, joy is
constantly bubbling up and flowing out.
Practice reveals that we are immersed in that joy.
Practice also reveals what is blocking the flow.
I stretch out the ropes from spire to spire; garlands from window to window; golden chains from star to star, and I dance.
God bless to us our bread,
And give bread to all those who are hungry
And hunger for justice to those who are fed.
God bless to us our bread.
Perhaps the most important lesson of Ladakh has to do with happiness. Only after many years of peeling away layers of preconceptions did I begin to see the joy and laughter of the Ladakhis for what it really was: a genuine and unhindered appreciation of life itself. In Ladakh I have known a people who regard peace of mind and joie de vivre as their unquestioned birthright. I have seen that community and a close relationship to the land can enrich human life beyond all comparison with material wealth or technological sophistication.
My soul magnifies God.
What shall I do
with this quiet joy?
It calls forth the expanse
of my soul, calls
it forth to go singing
through the world...
calls it forth
to bear into this world
where light will glisten
the edge of every wing
and blade of grass,
shine along every hair on every head,
gleam among the turnings of every wave,
the turning open of each life,
each human hand
The joy that compassion brings is one of the best-kept secrets of humanity . . . a secret known to only a very few people, a secret to be rediscovered over and over again.
"Peace!" the angel announced. But peace is as much task as gift. Only if we become calm as earth, fluid as water, and blazing as fire will we able to rise to the task of peacemaking, and the air will stir with the rush of wings of angels arriving to help us. This is why I wish you that great inner stillness which alone allows us to speak, even today, without irony, of "peace on earth" and, without despair, to work for it.
The first step to peace is to stand still in the light.
￼Watching gardeners label their plants
I vow with all beings
to practice the old horticulture
And let plants identify me.
White bird flying in the silence
take my soul with you.
I, a sparrow in God's sleeve,
nestled in the creamy folds,
fed with manna sweet as honey
from the honeycomb.
White bird flying
in the silence,
take my soul with you.
The human venture depends absolutely on a quality of awe and reverence and joy in the Earth and all that lives and grows upon the Earth.
The moral covenant of reciprocity calls us to honor our responsibilities for all we have been given, for all that we have taken. It's our turn now, long overdue. Let us hold a giveaway for Mother Earth, spread our blankets out for her and pile them high with gifts of our own making. Imagine the books, the paintings, the poems, the clever machines, the compassionate acts, the transcendent ideas, the perfect tools. The fierce defense of all that has been given. Gifts of mind, hands, heart, voice, and vision all offered up on behalf of the earth. Whatever our gift, we are called to give it and to dance for the renewal of the world. In return for the privilege of breath.
We all have rituals in our lives; we have simply forgotten that in our original way of living on the earth, these rituals were sacred, not secular. These rituals were designed to remind us over and over and over again of our true relationship to life: that of a grateful, amazed supplicant at the feet of Mystery.
What we need are guardians — guardians committed to the middle path of mindfulness and dedicated to the enormous task of restoring and healing our ravaged planet. Guardians who have penetrated the anthropocentric notions of our civilization and who, as Aldo Leopold said, can begin to "think like a mountain" and acknowledge that we are only "plain embers of the biotic community."
A healed relation to each other and to the earth then calls for a new consciousness, a new symbolic culture and spirituality. We need to transform our inner psyches and the way we symbolize the interrelations of men and women, humans and earth, humans and the divine, the divine and the earth. Ecological healing is a theological and psychic-spiritual process... we must see the work of eco-justice and the work of spirituality as interrelated, the inner and outer aspects of one process of conversion and transformation.
The divine feminine encourages interdependence, interconnectedness, and mutuality. Instead of dominating and controlling nature, the divine feminine represents reverence for nature's web of life. Instead of dismissing feelings and emotions, the divine feminine interprets them as a source of wisdom.
As we walk on the earth, encouraging a sense of care and kindness, it is as if the earth itself responds — up through the soles of our feet we experience the sustaining nature of the earth... We feel ourselves participating in a calm yet joyous celebration of the earth and the life sustained by the earth.
Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle, curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf. We must somehow take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what's going on here. Then we can at least wail the right question into the swaddling band of darkness, or, if it comes to that, choir the proper praise.
Teach us that even as the wonder of the stars in the heavens only reveals itself in the silence of the night, so the wonder of life reveals itself in the silence of the heart. In the silence of our heart we may see the scattered leaves of all the universe bound by love.
We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us. Our flesh-and-bone tabernacle seems transparent as glass to the beauty about us, neither old nor young, sick or well, but immortal. I am a captive. I am bound. Love of pure unblemished Nature seems to overmaster and blur out of sight all other objects and consideration... As long as I live, I'll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I'll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I'll acquaint myself with the glaciers, and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can.
Why ever did you trust us with the Earth,
Your jewel, Your pearl of great price?
Why did you trust us with Water,
pure crystal in the sunlight?
lush with table-sized leaves?
What do You see in us?
To the dull mind all nature is leaden. To the illumined mind the whole world burns and sparkles with light.
The earth is a living, conscious being. In company with cultures of many different times and places we name these things as sacred: air, fire, water, and earth.
Whether we see them as the breath, energy, blood, and the body of the Mother, or as the blessed gifts of a Creator, or as symbols of the interconnected systems that sustain life, we know that nothing can live without them... All people, all living things, are part of the earth life, and so are sacred. No one of us stands higher or lower than any other. Only justice can assure balance: only ecological balance can sustain freedom. Only in freedom can that fifth sacred thing we call spirit flourish in its full diversity.
To honor the sacred is to create conditions in which nourishment, sustenance, habitat, knowledge, freedom, and beauty can thrive. To honor the sacred is to make love possible.
Many a humble soul will be amazed to find that the seed it sowed in weakness, in the dust of daily life, has blossomed into immortal flowers under the eye of love.
So much of workaholism is trying to do it all on our own and not inviting or allowing the Higher Force to come in and relieve some of the tension.
I think that those who serve most potently, work on levels of consciousness that have to do with radiating love — maybe God's love... It is important that you have a brain and use it, but that is secondary. The basic premise is that you allow something to come through you. Then you use your intelligence to give your heart's work discipline and logic. But the transformative energy, that which can change events, that heals, that helps, that serves, comes from somewhere deep inside.
The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.
If personal transformation is global transformation, then each of us in our best creative moments, transforms the whole of humanity...Wealth, success, fame: none of these matter if your heart is not dancing and celebrating each moment of your life.
Quiet helps us find what we are passionate about. In that quiet, ask what it is you should be doing. Service is spiritual work or, to some, work of reverence. First, you have to uncover what it is you have a reverence for…what it is you love. It may not look like something that is grand or very important, but if you can do a good thing, a small thing on a regular basis, and keep going, it will shine a light. It will draw other light to you.
In an essay on the origin of civilization in traditional cultures, A.K. Coomaraswamy wrote that "the principle of justice is the same throughout: that each member of the community should perform the task for which he or she is fitted by nature." The two ideas, justice and vocation, are inseparable. It is by way of the principle and practice of vocation that sanctity and reverence enter into human economy. It was thus possible for traditional cultures to conceive that "to work is to pray."
Squirrels can teach us balance within the circle of gathering and giving out... As masters of preparing, they also are reminders that in our quest for our goals, we do well to make time to socialize and play. Work and play go hand in hand, or the work will create problems and become more difficult and less fruitful.
The oaks of 1910 were now ten years old and taller than either of us. It was such an impressive sight that I was struck dumb, and, as he never spoke, we spent the whole day in silence walking through his forest. When I reminded myself that all this was the work of the hand and soul of this one man, with no mechanical help, it seemed to me that after all we might be as effective as God in tasks other than destruction.
Sometimes in the busy world one develops what we call the illness of being two-hearted... It is where you want to do and have the ability to do but you don't do, and you argue with yourself about it. Good to be of one mind, one heart, and to see the ifs, ands, buts, and possibilities only as thoughts, without attachment, keeping clear your goal of being all that you can be, understanding the Mystery, seeing the truth as it is. To see the essence of what is, to perceive the harmony and live it, is to accomplish the "good life."
The outward work can never be small if the inward one is great, and the outward work can never be great if the inward is small or of little worth.
We are here to do.
And through doing to learn;
and through learning to know;
and through knowing to experience wonder;
and through wonder to attain wisdom;
and through wisdom to find simplicity;
and through simplicity to give attention;
and through attention
to see what needs to be done.
I used to think that the goal of life is to do equally well in the spheres of work and love. Now I know there is only one sphere. What matters is the way I treat everyone I encounter in the course of my days: my wife, my child, a friend, a colleague, a secretary, a textbook salesperson, a complaining student. What's important is to treat each one with courtesy, with respect...with love...We're all connected in a web of love.
If we just worry about the big picture, we are powerless. So my secret is to start right away doing whatever little work I can do. I try to give joy to one person in the morning, and remove the suffering of one person in the afternoon. If you and your friends do not despise the small work, a million people will remove a lot of suffering.
Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
The days come and go like muffled and veiled figures sent from a distant friendly party, but they say nothing, and if we do not use the gifts they bring, they carry them as silently away.
Every one of us has a "good work" to do in life, which accomplishes something needed in the world while completing something in us. When it is finished a new work emerges which will help us to make green a desert place, as well as to scale another mountain in ourselves. The work we do in the world, when it is a true vocation, always corresponds in some mysterious way to the work that goes on within us.
Silence is the discipline by which the inner fire of God is tended and kept.
Silence is the discipline by which the inner fire of God is tended and kept.
May the blessing of light be on you,
light outside, light inside.
May the blessed sunlight shine upon you
and warm your heart till it glows
like a great fire, so that the stranger
may be warmed at it, as well as the friend.
And may the light shine upon your eyes
like a candle set in the window,
bidding the wanderer in out of the storm.
As the flames of all the lamps of the Festival of Lights celebration burn brightly and reach upward through the entire night, they show the possibility that, with the removal of darkness, grossness, and ignorance, the tiny flickering light in our hearts can also shine brightly, illuminating the whole universe. May we see all progress speedily to the highest levels of spirituality–from darkness to light, and beyond.
The inner fire is the most important thing humankind possesses.
Invite the Sacred to participate in your joy in little things, as well as in your agony over the great ones. There are as many miracles to be seen through a microscope as through a telescope. Start with the little things seen through a magnifying glass of wonder, and just as a magnifying glass can focus the sunlight into a burning beam that can set a leaf aflame, so can your focused wonder set you ablaze with insight. Find the light in each other and just fan it.
"Okay–what are the other kinds of fire?" my father asks as he adds a stick to the fire at his feet… "There’s a fire you must tend to every day. The hardest one to take care of is the one right here" he says, tapping his finger against his chest. "Your own fire, your spirit. We all carry a piece of that sacred fire within us. We have to honor it and care for it. You are the firekeeper."
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or Fire.
The human heart has been so made by Love that, like a flint, it contains a hidden fire which is evolved by music and harmony, and renders us beside ourselves with ecstasy. These harmonics are echoes of that higher world of reality which we call the world of spirits...they fan into a flame whatever love is already dormant in the heart.
When you enter the stillness of the eternal now by letting go of the fictional me, you see that reality, enlightenment, or God is like a flame. It’s alive, ever moving, and ever dancing–the flame is always here. But the flame is impermanent. There is nothing about a flame that is permanent, static, or stable. If it were, it would be dead. Reality is alive, ever on the move, like a flame that leaps up from the log into the air.
Abba Paul went to see Abba Basil and said, "Abba, as far as I can, I say my little office, I fast a little, I read and meditate, I live in peace and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?"
Then the old man stood up and stretched his hands towards heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he responded, "If you will, you can become all fire. You cannot be a monk unless you become like a consuming fire."
Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God.
And only those who see take off their shoes;
The rest sit around and pluck blackberries.
The presence of love kindles into the will a fire of sacred love. Being always with the Holy One, who is a consuming fire, reduces to ashes whatever can be in opposition to it. The soul thus aflame can no longer live except in the Presence, a presence that produces in its heart a holy ardor, a sacred eagerness, and a fierce yearning to see God loved, known, served, and loved by all creatures.
That which is called light in creation is, in all its forms and in every being, one and the same spirit, a flame unique.
There is a spiritual hearth at the heart of every person, congregation, and diocese. The fire is ignitable precisely where we have a passion to begin again in the face of immense community and cultural brokenness. Perhaps there has never been a time in history where the need for rekindling has matched so strongly with the individual and communal desire to "begin again."
And we must learn to listen,
So that our heart may join the universal chorus.
On a desolate island off the west coast of Scotland, the sand "sings" when it’s touched. Walking across the beach produces a wide range of musical tones, like playing a musical instrument.
Scientists think the structure of the sand creates the sounds. The grains of sand are tiny pieces of quartz, rounded by the sea. Each grain is surrounded by a pocket of air. When the sand is touched, friction between the air and the grains produces musical tones. We may not have a chance to hear the strange music of singing sand, but we all have a chance to hear the music of rustling leaves. Happiness need not be pursued in exotic places. The joyful music of Creation surrounds us. All we need to do is listen.
Let yourself do and undo things,
But sing out of your own liberty.
Play needs no purpose. That is why play can go on and on as long as players find it meaningful. After all, we do not dance in order to get somewhere. We dance around and around. A piece of music doesn’t come to an end when its purpose is accomplished. It has no purpose, strictly speaking. It is the playful unfolding of a meaning that is there in each of its movements, in every theme, every passage: a celebration of meaning.
As we listen to music we enter into the mystery of another person’s inner life.
Listening is our bridge from the outer world to the inner world. Music creates multiple levels of listening. Learning to listen to music in creative ways provides the means for health improvement in the body, enhanced communication, and expression. For music has all the universal components of language, emotions, and expression. There is music in silence; thus meditation and hours of silence heighten awareness of our body rhythms and sounds.
Silence is disturbing because it is the wavelength of the soul. If we leave no space in our music, then we rob the sound we make of defining context...It’s almost as if we’re afraid of leaving space. Great music is as often about the space between the notes as it is about the notes themselves...What I’m trying to say here is that if I’m ever asked if I’m religious, I always reply, "Yes, I’m a devout musician." Music puts me in touch with something beyond intellect, something otherworldly, something sacred.
There is a quiet place I know where nature sings to me the music of the mountains and the forest and the sea. It is not far away, and yet it sometimes seems a place removed from daily life, a distant dream of time and space. I have been lost in city streets, in traffic fast and loud, where sirens scream and nature’s voice is drowned out by the crowd. And so I go to seek that place where I become a part of nature’s song–that quiet place I’ve found within my heart.
Most of us go to our graves with our music still inside us.
Lord of the mountain grove,
Hosts of warbling sparrows
Sing a song.
They keep repeating
I live by breathing in and breathing out. I sing by transforming this breath into sound, the sound which in turn forms the material for contents of the soul. Our life stretches from morning until evening, from dusk to dawn embracing the night...In these elements the soul rises and falls in equal measure between above and below, between light and dark. The human voice is based on the same elements.
We must pass through solitude and difficulty, isolation and silence, to find that enchanted place where we can dance our clumsy dance and sing our sorrowful song. But in that dance, and in that song, the most ancient rites of our conscience fulfill themselves in the awareness of being human.
May the music of our souls
Be accompanied by grand gestures
And the persistent clapping of hummingbird’s wings.
Music is medicine for the soul and a pathway to the heart.
As Jacob Boehme puts it, "I am a string in the concert of God’s joy."... We need to experience our own personal aliveness as part of that greater cosmic aliveness...When I become "a string in the concert of God’s joy," I am "sounded through" by the music, and in that sounding, in harmonic resonance with all the other instruments, is revealed both my irreplaceable uniqueness and my inescapable belonging.
When we are at home in the garden, tending and nurturing all its plants, animals, and minerals, living with them through all the seasons and days, then healing comes upon us like a gift and makes us whole.
Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!
To see a World in a Grain of Sand, And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand, And Eternity in an hour.
"It always amazes me to look at the little, wrinkled brown seeds and think of the rainbows in 'em," said Captain Jim. "When I ponder on them seeds I don't find it nowise hard to believe that we've got souls that'll live in other worlds. You couldn't hardly believe there was life in them tiny things, some no bigger than grains of dust, let alone colour and scent, if you hadn't seen the miracle, could you?"
Prayer is that divine seed whose roots draw food from earthly existence. Like the lotus flower that does not bloom in arable ground but in marshes, prayer thrusts its roots into human misery as if into mud. But the lotus flower does not show any trace of the muddy water from which it drew life; turned toward the sky, it blooms.
The Bishop's day was full to the brim with good thoughts, good words, and good actions. Still the day was not complete if cold or wet weather prevented him from spending an hour or two in the garden before going to bed... He was alone with himself, collected. Peaceful, adoring, comparing the serenity of his heart with that of the Other, affected in the darkness by the visible splendor of the constellations, and the invisible splendor of God... Without seeking to comprehend the incomprehensible, he gazed at it. He did not study God: he was dazzled (by God).
If you wish to make anything grow, you must understand it, and understand it in a very real sense. ‘Green fingers' are a fact and a mystery only to the unpracticed. But green fingers are the extensions of a verdant heart.
Flowers have incredible power. Their fragile beauty and brief life can teach us to enjoy without attachment, to experience deeply while knowing full well the experience is temporary. It is the same with all life... On the spiritual path it is not the pleasure we want to renounce, it is the attachment to the pleasure. Life will have its joys and its sorrows; to live fully we must live from the source, without attachment to either pleasure or pain.