Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tree In A Storm

Picture a tree in a storm. At the top of the tree, the small branches and leaves are swaying violently in the wind. The tree looks vulnerable, quite fragile - it seems it can break at any time. But if you look at the trunk, you will see that the tree is solid; and if you look down to its root structure, you will know that the tree is deeply and firmly rooted in the soil. The tree is quite strong. It can resist the storm.

We are also a kind of tree. Our trunk, our center, is just below our navel. The zones of our thinking and our emotions are at the levels of our head and chest. When we are taken hold of by a strong emotion, like despair, fear, anger or jealously, we should do our best to leave the zone of the storm and go down to the valley to practice breathing in and out. If we stay in the winds of the storm, it may be too dangerous. We can go for refuge into the trunk, breathing in and out, aware of the rising and falling of our abdomen.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Monday, May 30, 2016


There is no less holiness at this time — as you are reading this — than there was the day the Red Sea parted . . . There is no whit less enlightenment under the tree by your street than there was under the Buddha’s bodhi tree. There is no whit less might in heaven or on earth than there was the day Jesus said ‘Maid, arise’ to the centurion’s daughter, or the day Peter walked on water, or the night Mohammed flew to heaven on a horse. In any instant the sacred may wipe you with its finger. In any instant the bush may flare, your feet may rise, or you may see a bunch of souls in a tree.

~ Anne Dillard

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Web

Teach your children what we have taught our children: 
that the earth is our true mother. 
Whatever happens to the earth, happens to the children of the earth. 
If people spit on the ground, they spit on themselves. 
We know: the earth does not belong to people, but people belong to the earth. 
We know: everything is joined together in some way, 
like the blood that runs through a family. 
Whatever happens to the earth, happens to the children of the earth. 
We did not weave the web of life; we are just a strand in it. 
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.

~ Chief Seattle

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Family of the Universe

I am of the family of the universe, and with all of us together I do not fear being alone; I can reach out and touch a rock or a hand or dip my feet in water. Always there is some body close by, and when I speak I am answered by a plane's roar or the bird's whistling or the voices of others in conversation far apart from me. When I lie down to sleep, I am in the company of the dark and the stars.

Breathe to me, sheep in the meadow. Sun and moon, I smile at you both and spread my arms in affection and lay myself down at full length for the earth to know I love it, too, and am never to be separated from it. In no way shall death part us.

~ David Ignatow

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


It’s not impermanence per se, or even knowing we’re going to die, that is the cause of our suffering, the Buddha taught. Rather, it’s our resistance to the fundamental uncertainty of our situation. Our discomfort arises from all of our efforts to put ground under our feet, to realize our dream of constant okayness. 

When we resist change, it’s called suffering. But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation and relax into its dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment, or awakening to our true nature, to our fundamental goodness. Another word for that is freedom—freedom from struggling against the fundamental ambiguity of being human.

~ Pema Chodron

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


The answer is never the answer. What's really interesting is the mystery. If you seek the mystery instead of the answer, you'll always be seeking. I've never seen anybody really find the answer. They think they have, so they stop thinking. 

But the job is to seek mystery, evoke mystery, plant a garden in which strange plants grow and mysteries bloom. The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer.

~ Ken Kesey

Monday, May 23, 2016


You know the brick path in back of the house,
the one you see from the kitchen window,
the one that bends around the far end of the garden
where all the yellow primroses are?
And you know how if you leave the path
and walk up into the woods you come
to a heap of rocks, probably pushed
down during the horrors of the Ice Age,
and a grove of tall hemlocks, dark green now
against the light-brown fallen leaves?
And farther on, you know
the small footbridge with the broken railing
and if you go beyond that you arrive
at the bottom of that sheep’s head hill?
Well, if you start climbing, and you
might have to grab hold of a sapling
when the going gets steep,
you will eventually come to a long stone
ridge with a border of pine trees
which is as high as you can go
and a good enough place to stop.

The best time is late afternoon
when the sun strobes through
the columns of trees as you are hiking up,
and when you find an agreeable rock
to sit on, you will be able to see
the light pouring down into the woods
and breaking into the shapes and tones
of things and you will hear nothing
but a sprig of birdsong or the leafy
falling of a cone or nut through the trees,
and if this is your day you might even
spot a hare or feel the wing-beats of geese
driving overhead toward some destination.

But it is hard to speak of these things
how the voices of light enter the body
and begin to recite their stories
how the earth holds us painfully against
its breast made of humus and brambles
how we who will soon be gone regard
the entities that continue to return
greener than ever, spring water flowing
through a meadow and the shadows of clouds
passing over the hills and the ground
where we stand in the tremble of thought
taking the vast outside into ourselves.

Still, let me know before you set out.
Come knock on my door
and I will walk with you as far as the garden
with one hand on your shoulder.
I will even watch after you and not turn back
to the house until you disappear
into the crowd of maple and ash,
heading up toward the hill,
piercing the ground with your stick.

- Billy Collins