When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That's the message he is sending.

-Thich Nhat Hanh

When the stories of our life no longer bind us, we discover within them something greater. We discover that within the very limitations of form, of our maleness and femaleness, of our parenthood and our childhood, of gravity on the earth and the changing of the seasons, is the freedom and harmony we have sought for so long. Our individual life is an expression of the whole mystery, and in it we rest in the center of all worlds.

~ Jack Kornfield, 'A Path with Heart'

"If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper.  Without a cloud there will be no water; without water, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, you cannot make paper.  So the cloud is in here.  The existence of this page is dependent upon the  existence of a cloud.  Paper and cloud are so close."

~Thich Nhat Hanh

The Sage is occupied with the unspoken

and acts without effort.

Teaching without verbosity,

producing without possessing,

creating without regard to result,

claiming nothing,

the Sage has nothing to lose.

 

~Lao Tzu's Tao Tê Ching (translated by Priya Hemenway)

People talk about happening. They say that art is headed towards that direction, that happening is assimilating the arts. I don't believe in collectivism of art nor in having only one direction in anything. I think it is nice to return to having many different arts, including happening, just as having many flowers. In fact, we could have more arts "smell", "weight", "taste", "cry", "anger", etc. People might say that we never experience things separately, they are always in fusion, and that is why "the happening", which is a fusion of all sensory perceptions. Yes I agree, but if that is so, it is all the more reason and challenge to create a sensory experience isolated from other sensory experiences, which is something rare in daily life. Art is not merely a duplication of life. To assimilate art in life, is different from art duplicating life.

~Yoko Ono

We can find peace and freedom in the face of the mystery of life. In awakening to this harmony, we discover a treasure hidden in each difficulty. Hidden in the inevitable impermanence and loss of life, its very instability, is the enormous power of creativity. In the process of change, there arises an abundance of new forms, new births, new possibliities, new expressions of art, music, and life-forms by the millions. It is only because everything is changing that such bountiful an boundless creativity exists.

-Jack Kornfield, from 'A Path with Heart'

Green-Water Stream

 

To reach the Yellow-Flowered River

Go by the Green-Water Stream.

A thousand twists and turns of mountain

But the way there can’t be many miles.

The sound of water falling over rocks

And deep colour among pines.

Gently green floating water-plants.

Bright the mirrored reeds and rushes.

I am a lover of true quietness.   

Watching the flow of clear water

I dream of sitting on the uncarved rock

casting a line on the endless stream.

 

~Wang Wei

When we think about generosity, most of us probably don't think immediately of a powerful force, an inner resource, a real tool for changing how we relate to ourselves, to others and to our world. Instead we may think of it similarly to how we think of kindness or compassion - qualities that are gentle, tender, potentially self-effacing - and, as a big misconception, more aligned with weakness than strength. Largely this is because, culturally, we think of generosity purely in terms of the act of giving something up for someone else. This dynamic, by definition, implies at least some degree of self-sacrifice.

Generosity is more than just 'giving up'. Generosity generates its power from the gesture of letting go. Being able to give to others shows us our ability to let go of attachments that otherwise can limit our beliefs and our experiences. (...) This doesn't just happen passively; we choose to let (our attachments) dissolve through the cultivation of generosity. It is in that choice to dissolve that we carry ourselves to a state of greater freedom.

~Sharon Salzberg, 'The Real Power of Generosity'

Nothing is more effective than spending time in personal investigation and examination, taking the time to truly examine things such as impermanence or suffering. You can spend considerable time saying “that strikes me as being true,” but when you examine it, you’re completely convinced. In Buddhism, we talk about the importance of devotion, but faith and devotion are not merely agreeing with what somebody else says. The Buddha taught, in the first place, that [everything] has to be based on your personal investigation. It’s very much like the analogy of tasting honey - you know it’s sweet. If somebody comes along and says, “I’m going to kill you if you do not say honey is salty,” you may say that it’s salty—but deep down, you can’t do much about the mind that says it is sweet anyway. Similarly, [when you] spend time in personal investigative meditation, analyzing and examining whether something is true or not, then you experience [it] for yourself. 

~Khandro Rinpoche

In Answer

 

In these quiet years growing calmer,

Lacking knowledge of the world’s affairs,

I stop worrying how things will turn out.

My quiet mind makes no subtle plans.

Returning to the woods I love

A pine-tree breeze rustles in my robes.

Mountain moonlight fills the lute’s bowl,

Shows up what learning I have left.

If you ask what makes us rich or poor

Hear the Fisherman’s voice float to shore.

 

~Wang Wei

It seems to me that the earth is the very embodiment of bodhicitta - she unconditionally provides the grounds for life and no matter who we are or what we have done, we equally receive compassion from her. It is quite amazing when one thinks about it - that there is oxygen which we can breathe, that there is water which we can drink, and that there is soil on which plants can grow to feed us.

It is very important that we emulate the earth's attitude of generosity towards us. Just as we would do when receiving a precious gift from someone we love, we need to nurture what we have been given. This includes the earth's many wonders and biodiversity, as well as our relationship with all sentient beings. ... If we are able to do this, we will no longer simply be a burden upon the earth but will be a source of relief.

~ The 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, from 'The Seed of Compassion'

The Connection

 

Once we were fish

moving freely in the sea.

Our bodies were soft and swift

and we had no belongings.

 

Now that we crawled out of the sea

we are dry and full of cravings.

We wander city to city

carrying the memory of the sea

(but it isn't just a memory).

 

Listen very carefully and you will hear

the sea in your body.

You know, our blood is seawater

and we are all seacarriers.

 

~Yoko Ono, from 'Seven Little Stories'

"If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there's shouting after you, keep going. Don't ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going."

~Harriet Tubman

The first question I ask myself when something doesn't seem to be beautiful, the first question I ask, is why do I think it's not beautiful? And very shortly you discover that there is no reason.

If we can conquer that dislike, or begin to like what we did dislike, then the world is more open. That path, of increasing one's enjoyment of life, is the path I think we'd all best take. To use art not as self-expression but as self-alteration. To become more open.

~John Cage

THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things 
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry