Agitation over happenings which we are powerless to modify, either because they have not yet occurred, or else are occurring at an inaccessible distance from us, achieves nothing beyond the inoculation of here and now with the remote or anticipated evil that is the object of our distress. Listening four or five times a day to newscasters and commentators, reading the morning papers and all the weeklies and monthlies–nowadays, this is described as ‘taking an intelligent interest in politics.’ St. John of the Cross would have called it indulgence in idle curiosity and the cultivation of disquietude for disquietude’s sake.
– Aldous Huxley, Perennial Philosophy, 103-104
I tend to be an individualist in politics, and in America, I find it hard to decide whether the right wing or the left constitutes the greater threat to liberty. Thus in one sense of the word I am apolitical: I cannot find enthusiasm for any particular ideology, party, state, or nation, and I believe furthermore, that these are obsolete types of organizations, which increasingly work against the real interests of real people.
On the other hand, I am intensely interested in specific political and economic problems: in developing an ecologically sound technology, in getting it understood that the dollar is something like an inch (not wealth, but a measure of wealth), in showing that people must be paid for work done on their behalf by machinery, and in the drastic reform of prisons and mental hospitals.
~ Alan Watts, In My Own Way; An Autobiography, 1972
Your great mistake is to act the drama as if you were alone. As if life were a progressive and cunning crime with no witness to the tiny hidden transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely, even you, at times, have felt the grand array; the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding out your solo voice. You must note the way the soap dish enables you, or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity. The stairs are your mentor of things to come, the doors have always been there to frighten you and invite you, and the tiny speaker in the phone is your dream-ladder to divinity.
Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the conversation. The kettle is singing even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots have left their arrogant aloofness and seen the good in you at last. All the birds and creatures of the world are unutterably themselves. Everything is waiting for you.
~ David Whyte
Following the Zen of Master Dogen is not the wish to become more than human, a special being, Buddha or God. No more is it the hope to have a vision of emptiness, nor to perform miracles.
It is to return to the normal condition of the human mind.
There are many seekers who analyze but never practice zazen.
They just keep the books, like bankers who count money without themselves being rich.
– Kodo Sawaki
So many “spiritual” seekers attempt to attain loving kindness by waging inner warfare on their egos. But this subliminal quality of aggression against oneself projects into all other relationships, and those do-gooders carry their hostility into the world.
This is why bourgeois morality is so full of resentment toward those who won’t conform to conventional “self-discipline.”
Only when you enfold your ego in compassion, simply watching over it as a mother watches over her wondrous naughty innocent perfectly stumbling child, can you hope to permeate the world with forgiveness, with the grace of non-judgment.
~ Fred LaMotte
There are those who pride themselves on being ‘activists,’ some believing that their actions are more significant than what other people do. But who judges the value of an act?
The old Bulgarian cobbler – some say he is one of only seven Tzaddiks left on earth – stitches a new sole to a grizzled boot. He is so present, and so deep in merry silence, he doesn’t realize how he sews heaven to earth, allowing us to survive another day.
The pole star seems to rest in stillness all night. Yet it streaks at inconceivable speed through the heavens.
A tiny emerald moth alights on the lupine in a mountain meadow, folding its wings in repose. This faint pulse sends out a thread of causation that will finally bring a tempest to the other side of the planet.
The child falls and scrapes her knee. The mother who treats her wound, not only with ointment but with immeasurable tenderness, lightens the burden of all who suffer, though we never know quite why we sigh, and feel such nameless elevation.
If you take – no, receive – a breath with infinite gratitude – for we are not capable of doing infinite works, but we are capable of being infinitely grateful – this breath may feel like the faintest caress on your breastbone. But can you be sure it isn’t a mighty wind from the Creator, sweeping the world, renewing mountains, forests, and rivers, restoring the Spirit to every heart that beats?
In the words of Thich Nhat Hanh, “Drink your tea slowly, as if it is the axis on which the earth revolves.”
~ Fred LaMotte
If a man carries too many worldly burdens, his body will soon wear out. If he worries about too many worldly problems, his mind will soon collapse. To be so occupied with material things is a dangerous way to live, a foolish waste of energy. A man ought to simplify his needs and use his strength to attain spiritual goals. Nobody ever ruined his mind or body by exercising self-restraint.
– Han Shan, Journey to Dreamland