October 2019 (Vol. XXXII, No. 9)

Dear Friends ~ In autumn, the golden glow of tawny hues signals the waning of the chlorophyll that has been transforming sunlight into food. Trees let go of their leaves, plants their flowers, and we let go of bird song and water play and butterflies on the wing. Fall is the season of letting go. In the inner landscape of our hearts perhaps it is a time for forgiveness, the letting go of past hurts and misunderstandings, of anger and resentment. Perhaps it is a time for letting go of our expectations — maybe of what we thought we needed or what we thought we ought to have or the way we intended something to be done — so that we can embrace with gratitude what is. We often think of spring as a time for new beginnings, yet beginnings need space and time and endings and clearing away and incubation in order to emerge. So perhaps autumn is actually a fitting moment to embark on our own "beginning anew ceremony" by taking the first step and letting go.

Life is not hurrying

Life is not hurrying on to a receding future, nor hankering after an imagined past. It is the turning aside like Moses to the miracle of the lit bush, to a brightness that seemed as transitory as your youth once, but is the eternity that awaits you.
~ "The Bright Field" by R. S. Thomas
Collected Poems 1945-1990
By R. S. Thomas

True religion is surrender

...it is not the thing itself...that is the problem; but it is our clinging to the thing even when it causes us, ourselves, and others mental or physical pain, which blinds us to a bigger view and snowballs into more suffering. Ultimately, the challenge of letting go becomes a spiritual act in some way: in many spiritual traditions, surrender is the backbone, as Mohammed says in the Qur'an, "True religion is surrender." And so as we grasp at the beautiful red leaf, we just might let it spin again in the autumn wind, delighting in that tiny leaf-filled and empty moment.
~ from HAIKU MIND: 108 POEMS TO CULTIVATE AWARENESS & OPEN YOUR HEART by Patricia Donegan

Then let it go

I catch
the maple leaf then let
it go
~ John Wills

Let go of the stream of distress

The cosmos is filled with precious gems.
I want to offer a handful of them to you this morning.

Each moment you are alive is a gem,
shining through and containing Earth and sky,
Water and clouds.

It needs you to breathe gently
for the miracles to be displayed.
Suddenly you hear the birds singing,
the pines chanting...

You, the richest person on Earth,
who have been going around begging,
stop being the destitute child.
Come back and claim your heritage.
Enjoy your happiness
and offer it to everyone.
Cherish this very moment.
Let go of the stream of distress
and embrace life fully in your arms.
~ from "Our True Heritage" by Thich Nhat Hanh

Gratefulness is the bridge from sorrow to joy

I wonder if gratefulness is the bridge from sorrow to joy, spanning the chasm of our anxious striving. Freed from the burden of unbridled desires, we can enjoy what we have, celebrate what we've attained, and appreciate the familiar. For if we can't be happy now, we'll likely not be happy when.
~ Philip Gulley

Consider the lilies

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin...be not therefore anxious for the morrow for the morrow will be anxious for itself.
~ Matt 6: 28, 34

The heart of stillness sits perfectly balanced in the middle of chaos

When I started the practice of "no preference," a special quality of mind began to grow— a unique understanding and affirmation of the way things are— and I discovered something extraordinary: the heart of stillness sits perfectly balanced in the middle of chaos. This is the true dwelling place of the soul.
~ from ENDURING THE SACRED MOUNTAIN by David A. Cooper

Forgiveness is a complex experience

Forgiveness is a complex experience that changes an offended person's spiritual feelings, emotions, thoughts, actions, and self-confidence level. I believe learning to forgive the hurts and grudges of our life may be an important step for us to feel more hopeful and spiritually connected and less depressed.
~ from FORGIVE FOR GOOD by Fred Luskin
Forgive for Good
By Frederic Luskin

If the heart has forgiven

If the heart has forgiven and excused,
Offenses will not be remembered.
They are remembered only in the attic, the memory,
Without the heart's participation.

~ from CHRIST THE ETERNAL TAO by Damascene
Christ the Eternal Tao
By Hieromonk Damascene

A heaven of each moment

Each day that passes,
the sage discards another useless weight.
Finally all the accumulated burden
of a life spent seeking something
is gone.
In its place is a lightness of being
and a clarity of seeing
that makes a heaven
of each moment.
~ from "What Will Be Left is Life Itself" in THE SAGE'S TAO TE CHING

O sacred season of Autumn

O sacred season of Autumn, be my teacher,
for I wish to learn the virtue of contentment....
I live in a society that is ever-restless,
always eager for more mountains to climb,
seeking happiness through more and more possessions...
Teach me to take stock of what I have given and received,
may I know that it's enough,
that my striving can cease
in the abundance of God's grace...
As you, O Autumn, take pleasure in your great bounty,
let me also take delight
in the abundance of the simple things in life
which are the true source of joy.
With the golden glow of peaceful contentment
may I truly appreciate this autumn day.
~ Edward Hays in EARTH PRAYERS ed. by Elizabeth Roberts & Elias Amidon

Longing for our idealized images of life

Longing for our idealized images of life separates us from our true selves and from our true callings.
~ Stephen Cope

One leaf left on a branch

One leaf left on a branch
and not a sound of sadness
or despair. One leaf left
on a branch and no unhappiness.
One leaf left all by itself
in the air and it does not speak
of loneliness or death.
One leaf and it spends itself
in swaying mildly in the breeze.

~ David Ignatow

September 2019 (Vol. XXXII, No. 8)

Dear Friends ~ One of my college class assignments decades ago was to read a book called COME LET US PLAY GOD. Citing a myriad of scientific, technological, and medical breakthroughs of the time, it essentially raised the ethical questions and implications posed by our ever-advancing human capabilities. I remember at the time thinking that the human species has made breathtaking strides in intellectual development without the commensurate emotional or moral development. We make decisions and choose actions all the time because we can without thought for asking whether we should. In the midst of this skewed and ethically underdeveloped brew, our culture seems to have set aside values like honesty, integrity, generosity, kindness and civility. We don't hold public institutions and corporations and leaders to a higher moral standard.

We are never as kind as we want to be

...in our culture, it has been aptly observed, "we are never as kind as we want to be, but nothing outrages us more than people being unkind to us." In his stirring Syracuse commencement address, George Saunders confessed with unsentimental ruefulness: "What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness." I doubt any decent person, upon candid reflection, would rank any other species of regret higher. To be human is to leap toward our highest moral potentialities, only to trip over the foibled actualities of our reflexive patterns. To be a good human is to keep leaping anyway.

~ Maria Popova in the brainpickings.org newsletter, "Leo Tolstoy on Kindness and the Measure of Love"

The thing to do is supply light

One cool judgment is worth a thousand hasty counsels. The thing to do is supply light, not heat.
~ Woodrow Wilson

The North Star of their native moral compass

"Under conditions of terror," Hannah Arendt wrote in her classic treatise on the normalization of evil, "most people will comply but some people will not...No more is required, and no more can reasonably be asked, for this planet to remain a place fit for human habitation." Under such conditions, counting ourselves among the few who refuse to comply has less to do with whether we believe ourselves to be good than it does with the deliberate protections we must place between unrelenting evil and our own sanity and goodness, for among the most insaning aspects of tyrannical regimes is the Stockholm syndrome of the psyche they inflict upon us — upon ordinary people, not-evil people, people who consider themselves decent and good, but who slowly, through a cascade of countless small concessions, lose sight of the North Star of their native moral compass.

~ Maria Popova in the brainpickings.org newsletter, "Against the Slippery Slope of Evil"
Figuring
By Maria Popova

Conflict resolution as an art form

Rather than relying on a thin, idealized hope that we will all one day just get along, we can approach conflict resolution as an art form that we are privileged to develop and hone.
~ Diane Musho Hamilton

These inner values

The fundamental problem, I believe, is that at every level we are giving too much attention to the external, material aspects of life while neglecting moral ethics and inner values...I call for each of us to come to our own understanding of the importance of inner values. For it is these inner values which are the source of both an ethically harmonious world and the individual peace of mind, confidence, and happiness we all seek. Of course, all the world's major religions, with their emphasis on love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness, can and do promote inner values. But the reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate. This is why I believe the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics that is beyond religion.
~ from BEYOND RELIGION: ETHICS FOR A WHOLE WORLD by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

A point within

People get blocked by living: hurrying and consuming things of no value thinking this is life. Real life is from a point within that radiates out to the world, a point within filled with serenity and assurance that we are loved, that we have a role to play in this world...This is the center of the real self, the best place to be. If you can live from this place, you will be Love's messenger.
~ from INDIGO CHILDREN by Peggy Fay and Susan Gale

The listening at the gates of the heart

Then there is the listening at the gates of the heart which has been closed for so long, and waiting for that mysterious inner voice to speak. When we hear it, we know it is the Truth to which we must now surrender our lives.

~ Beth Ferris

Truthfulness, honor

Truthfulness, honor, is not something which springs ablaze of itself, it has to be created between people.
~ Adrienne Rich
Collected Poems: 1950-2012
By Adrienne Rich

Blessed are the good plain ears

Blessed are those ears
Which hear the secret
Whisperings of Jesus,
And give no heed to the
Deceitful whisperings of this world,
And
Blessed are the good
Plain ears which heed
Not outward speech but
What God speaks and
Teaches inwardly in the soul.

~ Thomas a Kempis, THE IMITATION OF CHRIST
The Imitation of Christ
By Thomas à Kempis

How to serve

I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.

~ Albert Schweitzer
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