Posts Tagged ‘Change’

  • Don’t confuse the teacher with the lesson, the ritual with the ecstasy, the transmitter of the symbol with the symbol itself.
    • The Tradition is linked to our encounter with the forces of life and not with the people who bring this about.
  • Pity those who seek for shepherds, instead of longing for freedom!
  • Everything moves, and everything moves to a rhythm. And everything that moves to a rhythm creates a sound.
  • What is a teacher? I’ll tell you: it isn’t someone who teaches something, but someone who inspires the student to give of her best in order to discover what she already knows.
    • The true teacher gives the disciple the courage to throw his or her world off balance, even though the disciple is afraid of things already encountered and more afraid still of what might be around the next corner.
  • It’s the same thing with repetition: it may seem the same, but it’s always different.
  • In order to forget the rules, you must know them and respect them.
  • The important thing is to allow fate to intervene in our lives and to decide what is best for everyone.
  • Like all storms, it will pass. The more violent it is, the more quickly it will pass.
  • We don’t believe that God made the universe. We believe that God is the universe and that we are contained in Him, and He in us.
    • … here we are part of everything and we celebrate rather than pray.
  • The truth is that with each step we take, we arrive.
    • You are on the right path… arriving with each step you take.
  • When we step out of our normal world and leave behind us all the usual barriers and prejudices, we tend to become more adventurous.
  • Everything is worship if you are focus on the present moment.
    • When you are washing up, pray. Be thankful that there are plates to be washed; that means there was food, that fed someone, that you’ve lavished care on one or more people, that you cooked and laid the table.
  • Laugh at your worries and insecurities. View your anxieties with humor.
  • … because we all know everything: it’s merely a question of believing.
  • Live now what others will only live in the future.
  • [Love] It cannot be held prisoner because it is a river and will overflow its banks. Anyone who tries to imprison love will cut off the spring that feeds it, and the trapped water will grow stagnant and rank.
  • Anyone who believes they have failed will always fail. Anyone who has decided that they cannot behave any differently will be destroyed by routine. Anyone who has decided to block all changes will be transformed into dust.
  • … there were two traditions, one that makes us repeat the same thing for centuries at a time, and another that opens the door into the unknown.
  • … common sense will prevail and religions will revert to being a refuge for the weak, who are always in search of guidance.
  • In order for the more substantial pieces of wood to catch fire, the kindling must burn first. In order for us to liberate the energy of our strength, our weakness must first have a chance to reveal itself.

Posted: October 11, 2013 in Quotes
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In all things, we are the victims of The Misconception From Afar. There is the idea of a city, and the city itself, too great to be held in the mind. And it is in this gap (between the conceptual and the real) that aggression begins. No place works any different than any other place, really, beyond mere details. The universal human laws—need, love for the beloved, fear, hunger, periodic exaltation, the kindness that rises up naturally in the absence of hunger/fear/pain—are constant, predictable, reliable, universal, and merely ornamented with the details of local culture. What a powerful thing to know: that one’s desires are mappable onto strangers; that what one finds in oneself will most certainly be found in The Other—perhaps muted, exaggerated, or distorted, yes, but there nonetheless, and thus a source of comfort.

Don’t be afraid to be confused. Try to remain permanently confused. Anything is possible. Stay open, forever, so open it hurts, and then open up some more, until the day you die, world without end, amen.

– George Saunders, he New Mecca

The Lesson of the Butterfly

Posted: August 11, 2013 in Short Stories
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Once a little boy was playing outdoors and found a fascinating caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother. He asked his mother if he could keep it, and she said he could if he would take good care of it.

The little boy got a large jar from his mother and put plants to eat, and a stick to climb on, in the jar. Every day he watched the caterpillar and brought it new plants to eat.

One day the caterpillar climbed up the stick and started acting strangely. The boy worriedly called his mother who came and understood that the caterpillar was creating a cocoon. The mother explained to the boy how the caterpillar was going to go through a metamorphosis and become a butterfly.

The little boy was thrilled to hear about the changes his caterpillar would go through. He watched every day, waiting for the butterfly to emerge. One day it happened, a small hole appeared in the cocoon and the butterfly started to struggle to come out.

At first the boy was excited, but soon he became concerned. The butterfly was struggling so hard to get out! It looked like it couldn’t break free! It looked desperate! It looked like it was making no progress!

The boy was so concerned he decided to help. He ran to get scissors, and then walked back (because he had learned not to run with scissors…). He snipped the cocoon to make the hole bigger and the butterfly quickly emerged!

As the butterfly came out the boy was surprised. It had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. He continued to watch the butterfly expecting that, at any moment, the wings would dry out, enlarge and expand to support the swollen body. He knew that in time the body would shrink and the butterfly’s wings would expand.

But neither happened!

The butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings.

It never was able to fly…

As the boy tried to figure out what had gone wrong his mother took him to talk to a scientist from a local college. He learned that the butterfly was SUPPOSED to struggle. In fact, the butterfly’s struggle to push its way through the tiny opening of the cocoon pushes the fluid out of its body and into its wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly would never, ever fly. The boy’s good intentions hurt the butterfly.

As you go through life, keep in mind that struggling is an important part of any growth experience. In fact, it is the struggle that causes you to develop your ability to fly.

Posted: April 11, 2013 in Quotes
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Out of perfection nothing can be made. Every process involves breaking something up. The earth must be broken to bring forth life. If the seed does not die there is no plant.

– Joseph Campbell

  • Vagabonding defined:
    • The act of leaving behind the orderly world to travel independently for an extended period of time.
    • A privately meaningful manner of travel that emphasizes creativity, adventure, awareness, simplicity, discovery, independence, realism, self-reliance, and the growth of the spirit.
    • A deliberate way of living that makes freedom to travel possible.
    • Latin-derived term that refers to a wanderer with no fixed home.
    • Vagabonding has always been a private choice within a society that is constantly urging us to do otherwise.
  • This book views long-term travel not as an escape but as an adventure and a passion – a way of overcoming your fears and living life to the fullest.

Research your own experiences for the truth… Absorb what is useful… Add what is specifically your own… The creating individual is more than any style or system. – Bruce Lee

  • Out of insane duty to fear, fashion, and monthly payments on things we don’t really need – we quarantine our travels to short, frenzied bursts. In this way, as we throw our wealth at an abstract notion called “lifestyle,” travel becomes just another accessory – a smooth-edged, encapsulated experience that we purchase the same way we buy clothing and furniture.
    • Ultimately, this shotgun wedding of time and money has a way of keeping us in a holding pattern. The more we associate experience with cash value, the more we think money is what we need to live. And the more we associate money with life, the more we convince ourselves that we are too poor to buy our freedom.
    • In reality, long-term travel has nothing to do with demographics – age, ideology, income – and everything to do with personal outlook.
    • Vagabonding is about using the prosperity and possibility of the information age to increase your personal options instead of your personal possessions.
    • Vagabonding is about looking for adventure in normal life, and normal life within adventure.

[We end up spending] the best part of one’s life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it. – Henry David Thoreau

  • … rooting ourselves to a home or a career and using the future as a kind of phony ritual that justifies the present.
  • Vagabonding is the ongoing practice of looking and learning, of facing fears and altering habits, of cultivating new fascination with people and places.
    • Vagabonding is a personal act that demands only realignment of self.

And they say in truth that a man is made of desire. As his desire is, so is his faith. As his faith is, so are his works. As his works are, so he becomes. – The Supreme Teaching of the Upanishads

Which would have advanced the most at the end of a month? The boy who made his own jackknife from the ore which he had dug and smelted, reading as much as would be necessary for this – or the body who had… received a Rodger’s penknife from his father? Which would be most likely to cut his fingers? – Henry David Thoreau

  • [Trustafarians] Because they never worked for their freedom, their travel experiences have no personal reference – no connection to the rest of their lives.
    • They are spending plenty of time and money on the road, but they never spent enough of themselves to begin with. Thus, their experience of travel has a diminished sense of value.
  • The “meaningful” part of travel always starts at home, with a personal investment in the wonders to come.
  • Work is how you settle your financial and emotional debts – so that your travels are not an escape from your real life but a discovery of your real life.

Wanting to travel reflects a positive attitude. You want to see, to grow in experience, and presumably to become more whole as a human being. Vagabonding takes this a step further: it promotes the chances of sustaining and strengthening this positive attitude. As a vagabond, you begin to face your fear now and then instead of continuously sidestepping them in the name of convenience. You build an attitude that makes the life more rewarding, which in turn makes it easier to keep doing it. It’s called positive feedback, and it works. – Ed Buryn, Vagabonding in Europe and North Africa

  • However you choose to fund your travel freedom, keep in mind that your work is an active part of your travel attitude.

We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope; without it the life of the cities would drive all men into crime or drugs or psychoanalysis. – Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

  • List the job skills travel has taught you: independence, flexibility, negotiation, planning, boldness, self-sufficiency, improvisation.

A lot of us first aspired to far-ranging travel and exotic adventure early in our teens; these ambitions are, in fact, adolescent in nature, which I find an inspiring idea… Thus, when we allow ourselves to imagine as we once did, we know, with a sudden jarring clarity, that if we don’t go right now, we’re never going to do it. And we’ll be haunted by our unrealized dreams and know that we have sinned against ourselves gravely. – Tim Cahill, Exotic Places Made Me Do  It

  • …travel allows you to experience the nuances of the world in a way that mass media never will.
  • Indeed, the freedom to go vagabonding has never been determined by income level; it’s fund through simplicity – the conscious decision of how to use what income you have.
    • Simplicity merely requires a bit of personal sacrifice: an adjustment of your habits and routines within consumer society itself.
    • At times, the biggest challenge in embracing simplicity will be the vague feeling of isolation that comes with it, since private sacrifice doesn’t garner much attention in the frenetic world of mass culture.

Our crude civilization engenders a multitude of wants… Our forefathers forges chains of duty and habit, which bind us notwithstanding our boasted freedom, and we ourselves in desperation, add link to link, groaning and making medicinal laws for relief. – John Muir, Kindred and Related Spirits

… the general demand that they consume production and therefore have to work for the privilege of consuming, all that crap they didn’t really want… general junk you always see a week later in the garbage anyway, all of [it] impersonal in a system of work, produce, consume. – Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

  • … neither self nor wealth can be measured in terms of what you consume or own.

[Seeking happiness in one’s material desires is absurd as] suffering because a banana tree will not bear mangos. – Buddha

  • Despite several millennia of such warnings, however, there is still an overwhelming social compulsion – an insanity of consensus, if you will – to get rich from life rather than live richly, to “do well” in the world instead of living well.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune, Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing. – Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road

By switching to a new game, which in this case involves vagabonding, time becomes the only possession and everyone is equally rich in it by biological inheritance. Money, of course, is still needed to survive, but time is what you need to live. So, save what little money you possess to meet basic survival requirements, but spend your time lavishly in order to create the life values that make the fire worth the candle. – Ed Buryn

Travel can be a kind of monasticism on the move: one the road, we often live more simply, with no more possession than we can carry, and surrendering ourselves to chance. This is what Camus meant when he said that “what gives value to travel is fear.” – disruption, in other words (or emancipation), from circumstance and all the habits behind which we hide. – Pico Iyer, Why We Travel

  • There are three general methods to simplifying your life: stopping expansion, reining in your routine, and reducing clutter.

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after your own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

  • Vagabonding is, was, and always will be a private undertaking – and its goal is to improve your life not in relation to your neighbors but in relation to yourself.
  • Indeed, not only does simplicity save you money and buy you time; it also makes you more adventuresome, forces you into sincere contact with locals, and allows you the independence to follow your passions and curiosities down exciting new roads.

My greatest skill has been to want little. – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone. – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

  • Vagabonding is not just a process of discovering the world but a way of seeing – an attitude that prepares you to find the things you weren’t looking for.

It is fatal to know too much at the outset; boredom comes as quickly to the traveler who knows his routes as the novelist who is overcertain of his plot. – Paul Theroux, To the Ends of the Earth

  • The key to preparation is to strike a balance between knowing what’s out there and being optimistically ignorant.
  • The gift of the information age is knowing your options – not your destiny – and those people who plan their travels with the idea of eliminating all uncertainty and unpredictability are missing out on the whole point of leaving home in the first place.
  • The goal of preparation is not knowing exactly where you’ll go but being confident nonetheless that you’ll get there. This means that your attitude will be more important than your itinerary, and that the simple willingness to improvise more vital, in the long run, than research.

Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity… no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. – John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley

  • A lot of media information – especially day-to-day news – should be approached with a healthy amount of skepticism. This is because so many media outlets are more in the business of competing for your attention than giving you a balanced picture of the world.

A good traveler has no fixed plan, and is not intent on arriving. – Laozi, The Way of Life

  • Human-centered adventures

When the virus of restlessness begins to take possession of a wayward man, and the road away from Here seems broad and straight and sweet, the victim must first find in himself a good and sufficient reason for going. This to practical bum is not difficult. He has built-in garden of reason to choose from. Next he must plan his trip in time and space, choose a direction and a destination. – John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley

Before the development of tourism, travel was conceived to be like study, and its fruits were considered to be the adornment of the mind and the formation of the judgment. The traveler was a student of what he sought. – Paul Fussell, Abroad

  • … moderate the amount of time you spend online as you travel – since nothing stifles your vagabonding flexibility quite like the compulsive urge to stay connected to the modern world.
  • Vagabonding is not like bulk shopping: The value of our travels does not hinge on how many stamps you have in your passport when you get home – and the slow, nuanced experience of a single country is always better than the hurried, superficial experience of forty counties.
  • Never underestimate your ability to learn and adapt quickly – and don’t waste time fretting about every possibility that might come your way on the road.
    • Simple courage is worth far more than detailed logistics, and a confident, positive, ready-to-learn attitude will make up for any travel savvy you lack at the outset.

Travel, there is no path
path are made by walking. – Antonio Machado, Cantores

  • Buddhists believe that we live our everyday lives as if inside an eggshell. Just a an unhatched chicken has few clues about what life is truly like, most of us are only vaguely aware of the greater world that surrounds us.

Excitement and depression, fortune and misfortune, pleasure and pain are storms in a tiny, private, shell-bound realm – which we take to be the whole fo existence. Yet we can break out of this shell and enter a new world. – Eknath Easwaran

Travel in general, vagabonding in particular, produces an awesome density of experiences… a cramming together of incidents, impressions and life detail that is both stimulating and exhausting. So much new and different happens to you so frequently, just when you’re most sensitive to it… You may be excited, bored, confused, desperate and amazed all in the same happy day. – Ed Buryn

I don’t want to hurry it. That itself is a poisonous twentieth-century attitude. When you want to hurry something, that means you no longer care about it and want to get on to other things. – Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

  • At home, you’re conditioned to get to the point and get things done, to favor goals and efficiency over moment-by-moment distinction.

When you travel you experience, in a very practical way, the act of rebirth. You confront completely new situations, the day passes more slowly, and on most journeys you don’t even understand the language the people speak.. You begin to be more accessible to others, because they may be able to help you in difficult situations. – Paulo Coelho

Did you think you should enter the Garden of Bliss without such trials as came to those who passed before you? – The Koran

  • In other words, tourist attractions are defined by their collective popularity, and that very popularity tends to devalue the individual experience of such attractions.

The practice of soulful travel is to discover the overlapping point between history and everyday life, the way to find the essence of every place, every day: In the markets, small chapels, out-of-the-way parks, craft shops. Curiosity about the extraordinary in the ordinary moves the heart of the traveler intent on seeing behind the veil of tourism. – Phil Cousineau, The Art of Pilgrimage

Bear in mind that the special advantage of vagabonding is the experience not really knowing what happens next, which you can obtain at bargain rates in all cases… The challenges you face offer no alternative but to cope them. And doing that , your life is being lived fully. – Ed Buryn, Vagabonding in Europe and North America

We see as we are. – The Buddha

Those who visit foreign nations, but associate only with their own countrymen, change their climate, but not their customs. They see new meridians, but the same men; and with heads as empty as their pockets, return home with traveled bodies, but untraveled minds. – Charles Caleb Colton, Lacon

We do not need to understand other people and their customs fully to interact with them and learn in the process; it is making the effort to interact without knowing all the rules, improvising certain situations, that allow us to grow. – Mary Catherine Bateson, Peripheral Visions

We need sometimes to escape into open solitudes, into aimlessness, into the moral holiday of running some pure hazards, in order to sharpen the edge of life, to taste hardship, and to be compelled to work desperately for a moment no matter what. – George Santayana, The Philosophy of Travel

Exploration is not so much a covering surface distance as a study in depth: a fleeting episode, a fragment of landscape or a remark overheard that may provide the only means of understanding and interpreting areas which would otherwise remain barren of meaning. – Claude Levi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques

  • The secret of adventure is not to carefully seek it out but to travel in such a way that it finds you.
    • To do this, you first need to overcome the protective habit of home and open yourself up to unpredictability.

Explore your own higher latitude. Be a Columbus to whole new continents within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought. – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

The man who is truly good and wise will bear with dinginity whatever fortune sends, and will always make the best of his circumstances. – Aristotle

We have no reason to mistrust our world, for it is not against us. Has it terrors, they are our terrors; has it abysses, those abysses belong to us; are dangers at hand, we must try to love them… How should we be able to forget those ancient myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. – Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquesioningly. Everything … we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is golden for him who has the vision to realize it as such. – Henry Miller

Our eyes find it easier on a given occasion to produce a picture already often produced, than to seize upon the divergence and novelty of an impression. It is difficult and painful for the ear to listen to anything new; we hear strange music badly. – Friedrich Nietzsche

Traveler vs. Tourist

The traveler sees what he sees; the tourist sees what he has come to see. – GK Chesterton

The traveler was active, he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience. The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him. – Daniel Boorstin

Tourists don’t know where they’ve been; travelers don’t know where they’re going. – Paul Theroux

Travelers are those who leave their assumptions at home, and [tourists are] those who don’t. – Pico Iyer

  • With escape in mind, vacationers tend to approach their holiday with a grim resolve, determined to make their experience live up to their expectation; on the vagabonding road, you prepare for the long haul knowing that the predictable and the unpredictable, the pleasant and the unpleasant are not separate but part of the same ongoing reality.
  • In this way, “seeing” as you travel is somewhat of a spiritual exercise: a process not of seeking interesting surroundings, but of being continually interested in whatever surrounds you.

Most people are on the world, not in it – having no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them – undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate. – John Muir, The Wilderness World of John Muir

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move; to feel the needs and hitches of our life more nearly; to come down off this feather-bed of civilization, and find the globe granite underfoot and strewn with cutting flints. – Robert Louis Stevenson, Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes

  • The best way to confront reality is not with a set method of interpretation but with a sincere attitude of open-mindedness.

Luxury, then, is a way of being ignorant, comfortably. – Leroi Jones, Political Poem

  • Cling too fiercely to your ideologies and you’ll miss the subtle realities that politics can’t address.
  • Just as skepticism should not be confused with cynicism, however, embracing realism need not be confused with falling into pessimism.

The evaluation of tourism cannot be accomplished against a static background. Some of what we see as destruction is construction. Some is the result of a lack of any other viable option; and some the result of choices that could be made differently. – Davydd J. Greenwood

  • One particular potent strain of traveler pessimism is the notion that modern influences are destroying native societies, or that certain cultures were more “real” sometimes in the not-too-distant past. According to this assumption, any given society was somehow better twenty years ago, before it was “spoiled.” What such reflexive pessimism overlooks, of course, is that societies have always changed, and that “tradition” is a dynamic phenomenon.
    • … much of concern about the evils of change within premodern culture is less an interest in the quality of local life than our own desire to experience an “untainted” culture.
    • The purest way to see a culture is simply to accept and experience it as it is now.

While I complain of being able to glimpse no more than the shadow of the past, I may be insensitive to reality as it is taking shape at this very moment… A few hundred years hence, in this same place, another traveler, as despairing as myself, will mourn the disappearance of what I might have seen, but failed to see. – Claude Levi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques

The unreal never is: the Real never is not. This truth indeed has been seen by those who can see the true. – Bhagavad Gita

The drug vision remain a sort of dream that cannot be brought over into daily life. Old mist may be banished, that is true, but the alien chemical agent forms another mist, maintaining the separation of the ‘I” from the true experience of the ‘One.’ – Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard

  • The problem with marijuana, however, is that it’s the travel equivalent of watching television: It replaces real sensation with artificially enhanced ones. Because it doesn’t force you to work for a feeling, it creates passive experiences that are only vaguely connected to the rest of your life.

I never took drugs because I am drugs. – Salvador Dali

  • Strive to be drugs as you travel, to patiently embrace the raw, personal sensation of unmediated reality – an experience far more affecting than any intoxicant can promise.

Often I feel I got to some distant region of the world to be reminded of who I really am… Stripped of your ordinary surroundings, your friends, your daily routines, your refrigerator full of your food, your closet full of your clothes, you are forced into direct experience. Such direct experience inevitably makes you aware of who it is that is having the experience. That’s not always comfortable, but it is always invigorating. – Michael Crichton, Travels

We all have stuck in us deep somewhere a keenness for excitement, a savoring for the kooky, a leap-for-life outlook. From this comes the catalytic impetus, without which all other requirements mean nothing. Everyday types are as likely to have this sine qua non as the obvious icon-kickers. The person who strikes off for himself is no hero, nor necessarily even unconventional, but to a greater degree than most people, he or she thinks and acts independently. The vagabond frees in himself the latent urge to live closer to the edge of experience. – Ed Buryn

  • …what most people consider “paradise” is defined in contrast to the stresses of home.
  • In knowing my possibilities, I also knew my limitations.
  • Aboriginal walkabout – walkabout acts as a kind of remedy when the duties and obligations of life cause one to lose track of his or her true self. To correct this, one merely leaves behind all possessions and starts walking.
    • There is no physical goal: It simply continues until one becomes whole again.

One must not delude oneself that we are all alike or destined to be members of some sort of global family. – Jeffrey Taylor, Ex-Peace Corps worker

  • Acknowledging differences and avoiding superficial cures is not just a valuable lesson of volunteer work – it’s often the first step in actually solving the problems that you seek to fix.

He who stays at home beside his hearth and is content with the information which he may acquire concerning his own region, cannot be on the same level as one who divides his life span between different lands and spends his days journeying in search of precious and original knowledge. – al-Masudi, The Meadows of Gold

People say that we are all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think this is what we’re really seeking. I think what we are seeking is an experience of being alive. – Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

[Travel as a form of asceticism] is a way of surrendering to reduced circumstances in a manner that enhances the whole person. It is a radical way of knowing exactly who, what, and where you are, in defiance of those powerful forces in society that aim to make us forget. – Kathleen Norris

  • Travel compels you to discover your spiritual side by simply elimination: Without all the rituals, routines, and possessions that give your life meaning at home, you are forced to look for meaning within yourself.
  • Words are symbols, and symbols never resonate the same for everyone.

There is no God but reality. – Sufi saying

  • it is not a declaration of unbelief. Rather, it is a warning to avoid turning inspiration into fetish and tradition into dogma; it is an admonition to never reduce the spiritual realm to the narrow borders of your own perceptions, prejudices, and ideals.

Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we sense them. The least we can do is try to be there. – Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

http://www.vagabonding.net/resources/

Posted: April 27, 2012 in Quotes
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To exist is to change,
to change is to mature,
to mature is to go on
creating oneself endlessly.

– Henri Bergson

Posted: April 18, 2012 in Quotes
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Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

What is Zen?

不立文学,教外别传,直指人心,见性成佛。

  • Not reliant on written word
  • A special transmission separate from the scriptures
  • Direct pointing at one’s mind, seeing one’s nature, becoming the Buddha

Fish forget that they live in lakes and rivers; people forget that they live in the magic of the Dao. – Confucius

  • If one engages in self-cultivation with the desire to sever the roots of defilement and erroneous thinking, it is not only to attain the tranquil realm of true emptiness which involves no-thought, no-idea, no-mind, no-self, etc.; it is also in pursuit of the wonderful wisdom that is experienced in and grows from a way of life that is different from the ordinary. In that realm, the whole world is seen from one perspective, and there are no dichotomies; it is the true world where the self and others, as well as good and evil, are all transcended.
Stories
  • Don’t get mired in the worlds of yesterday and tomorrow. Instead, live in the world of today. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, experience the beautiful things around you at that moment.
    • Life is but a breath.
    • When you can see the beauty and goodness in everything around you, you have entered the gates of Zen.
  • Heaven and Hell aren’t places that suddenly appear after death. They exist here and now. Good and evil involve just a single instant of thought, and the gates of Heaven and Hell are ready to open for you at any time.
  • When you go point out other people’s mistakes, the real error may very well be hidden in your own misconceptions.
  • The truth and words are unrelated.
    • The truth can be compared to the moon. And words can be compared to a finger. I can use my finger to point out the moon, but my finger is not the moon, and you don’t need my finger to see the moon.
    • Language is merely a tool for pointing out the truth, a mean to help us attain enlightenment. Whoever insists on language sacrifices the truth and will be confused forever.
    • Anytime we use words to explain something, there will be deficiencies. That which is asked about is itself the most complete answer.
    • If a rock is thrown at a dog, the dog will go after the rock. If a rock is thrown at a lion, the lion will go after the person who threw it. When investigating the language of Zen, you should be like lion and not the dog.
      • The words of a person of Zen are just pointers, topics that lead to a deeper level of experience, so when encountering the language of Zen, don’t pursue simply the meanings of the words themselves.
  • If you had one hundred sheep and one of them lost its way, wouldn’t you immediately go in search of the lost one, abandoning the other 99 in the open fields? It is important to help those who need help the most.
  • In practicing Zen, we should be like the mute, gaining insights yet feeling it not worthwhile to discuss them with others. The worst thing a person can do is emulate a parrot and go around teaching others about one’s merely superficial understanding of Zen.
  • Don’t project  yourself on things you come into contact with, and don’t differentiate between yourself and other things, because so-called  subjectivity and objectivity do not exist. The domain of wisdom is in understanding that there is no self, there is no other, and everything is the way it is.
  • Consistency between actions and words is the foundation of self-cultivation.
  • Heaven looks on all beings just the same and won’t help anyone in particular. The one who can help you is yourself.
  • Everything has its place in nature.
  • Don’t dwell on the past. Don’t worry about the future. Experience and cherish the moment. Happiness is acting according to circumstances, whatever they may be.
    • While we live, we should enjoy the mystery and beauty that are life, rather than worrying about what comes after death. Live today without worrying about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have its own worries.
  • When the wind blows, the bamboo bends; when the wind is gone, the bamboo makes no sound. A wild goose crosses a wintry lake, and when it departs, the lake leaves no trace. When something happens, confront it with your original nature. When it’s over, empty your mind of it.
    • All you have to do is respond in a direct, resolute way to any situation, and you will become that situation, and that situation become you.
  • The perfect person’s mind is like a mirror: neither taking nor welcoming, it responds but doesn’t store. So, when it is time to be a general, you should be a general, and when it is time to be a monk, be a monk.
    • If your mind is torn by two conflicting desires, the contradiction will destroy your mind’s unity and tranquility. Just remember, when you should grab something, grab it; when you should let go, let go.
  • Rich and poor are not functions of how much money we have, but rather, of whether or not we are content with what we have.
  • Meet the changes by not changing, for the number of ways to change is limited, while the number of ways to stay the same is infinite.
  • The same pat answer isn’t necessarily true in all situations. The truth of life is always moving, always changing.
  • It is not until the external light is extinguished that our internal light shines bright. It is not until our crutch is discarded that we can realize our latent potential.
  • …we can attain this new life not through thought, but through direct insight.
  • The most precious thing there is resides inside you – it is yourself. In pursuing external objects, we lose the self.

The many have one essence, and the one has many manifestations.

  • What other people have come to understand intuitively can never become yours unless you come to understand it through your own effort.
  • 僧问:“祖意教意是同是别?” 师曰:“鸡寒上树,鸭寒入水。”
    • Everyone has a different way of arriving at the same destination.
    • There is not just one path, and not everyone is fit to travel the same path. By limiting yourself to a certain path, you may actually lead yourself astray.
  • Socrates said that if people know what they should do, they will do it. But he underestimated people’s ability to fail themselves. Everyone knows what they should do, but how many people actually do it?
  • Someone asked a Zen Master, “How do you practice Zen?” The master said, “When you are hungry, eat; when you are tired, sleep.” “Isn’t that what everyone does anyway?” The master replied, “No, No. Most people entertain a thousand desires when they eat and scheme over a thousand plans (untie a thousand knots) when they sleep.”
  • Any time and any place are always the best time and the best place. All you have to do is experience things with an attentive mind.
    • Seize the moment; experience the present; don’t let anything slip by.
  • No teacher can instill a student with anything; but he can help that student understand everything in the student’s own mind.
  • Everything in the world is different from everything else. Therefore, there can never be one certain, unfailing standard. Standards change with people.
  • Movement was originally easy, but we have been shackled by so many worldly rules and restrictions that it is sometimes difficult to take even a single step.
  • A man of Dao is of no-mind; how can he do wrong? By not getting mired in appearances and by following our original nature, we can do no wrong.
  • Only by assimilating yourself with nature and sincerely forgetting the self can you be one with the truth.
  • Flowers are quick to wither, yet the cycle will always remain. Water may move, but the surface of the stream will never change. The meaning of life lies in the process of living – change is the only thing that never changes.
  • You don’t need to travel to some illusory world to find the principles of life; just pay attention to the details of life and experience them. When you begin to doubt, an answer is most likely found where the question begins.
  • We often discover a certain joy in hardship after the hardship is over. If we can discover it while it is happening, then summer will have its goodness and winter will have its wonders.
  • The world and I live together, the myriad things and I are one.  Although the myriad things have innumerable manifestations, they are really of one body.
Beliefs

Zen teachings do not incorporate any practices of belief within them. In fact, you could not get a religion further from beliefs than Zen. As a meditator, if a belief is encountered within oneself, it is simply to be recognized for what it is – a belief – but not followed. There is no question of pushing beliefs away as terrible things, but neither are they to be justified and shored up to be convictions. Then they come and go within the mind, and one’s life is not based upon them. If one places any importance on beliefs they distort reality and cut off the drive to realize truth within oneself.

Trust, however, is a different thing altogether and very important. It is necessary, for example, to trust in the teachings and the path, otherwise they could not be followed.

  • We are all the instruments of nature’s cycle of life and death, whether we like it or not.
    • It is recognized that merely by being alive and breathing, or placing one’s foot upon the ground, one causes countless beings to perish.

There is nothing special about what I do each day;
I only keep myself in harmony with it,
Everywhere I neither accept nor reject anything.
Nor here do I confirm or refute a thing.
Why do people say that red and purple differ?
There’s not a speck of dust on the blue mountain.
Supernatural power and wonder-making works
Are but fetch water and the gathering of wood.

  • The more love you give, the more love you get. The more you share good fortune with others, the more you have for yourself.

Posted: November 7, 2011 in Quotes
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We need sometimes to escape into open solitudes into aimlessness, into the moral holiday of running some pure hazard in order to sharpen the edge of life, to taste hardship, and to be compelled to work desperately for a moment at no matter what.

― George Santayana

Posted: October 10, 2011 in Quotes
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I distrust all dead and mechanical formulas for expressing anything connected with human affairs and human personalities. Putting human affairs in exact formulas shows in itself a lack of the sense of humor and therefore a lack of wisdom.

– 林語堂 Lin Yutang