Hell on Earth

Hell consists not in being deprived of union, but in willful failure to appreciate it; in a state of soul so perverse that the love and the gift of union are so repulsive that they appear not as the light of glory but as a terrible and consuming fire. The flames of hell are, in fact, the inescapable love of God.

~ Alan Watts

New land

Last summer, Robbi and I were on a trail in the Rocky Mountains we’d hiked many times before. But, this time instead of turning left at a small fork we decided to turn right.

We weren’t expecting different terrain on the new trail. We were just feeling good and wanted to see what was around the corner…some new land we hadn’t seen before.

What we found was the view in the photo in this post, which of course doesn’t do it justice. The view was breathtaking and we were both glad we decided to do something different.

We were also amazed such a beautiful place had been only a few yards around the corner all those years before without us knowing about it.

In a way, we had just followed the trail out of habit without being mindful about what else was available to us. You could say we hadn’t been as mindful on that trail as we could have been.

I believe spontaneity requires mindfulness.

Being mindful doesn’t block spontaneity. Just the opposite. Mindfulness enables you to escape the prison of habit.

Here’s to mindful, spontaneous and happy trails to you in 2016.

~ Scott Kinnaird

Providence moves within commitment

But when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money–booked a sailing to Bombay. This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.

Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too.

A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.

I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

‘Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!’

~ W. H. Murray in The Scottish Himalaya Expedition, 1951.

Monkey mind

The ego is a monkey catapulting through the jungle: Totally fascinated by the realm of the senses, it swings from one desire to the next, one conflict to the next, one self-centered idea to the next. If you threaten it, it actually fears for its life.

Let this monkey go. Let the senses go. Let desires go. Let conflicts go. Let the fiction of life and death go. Just remain in the center, watching. And then forget that you are there.

~ Hua Hu Ching

Right here, right now

What is it that opens the gate to joy in our ordinary, day-to-day lives? I’ve been calling it awakeness and awareness: the simple practice of sitting quietly, breathing in and out, dropping our obsessive thoughts and resistance to the freshness of the moment that is exactly here.

It is amazing, our resistance to tapping into the joy that is like the blue sky surrounding this earth.

~ Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara

The multi-stranded rope of religion

Religion is like a rope with interlaced strands of culture, history, tradition, community, theology, mythology and ethics.

Unfortunately, people believe these strands are all one-and-the-same. If they reject one or two strands, they think they’ll be forced to throw away the whole rope.

Or, they’re made to believe if they embrace only a few of the strands, they’ll be identified with the entire rope.

But, this simply isn’t true. All-or-nothing religions and separation theologies aren’t spiritual paths. They’re tyrannies of the mind.

I would prefer someone embrace the community, culture and ethics of a faith tradition without clinging to its theology or mythology, than have them idolize the theology and mythology and skip compassion and ethics.

~ Scott Kinnaird

Effortless equilibrium

Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion.

~ Robert Pirsig

Like a knife trying to cut itself

But in the sixties, everything blew up. Something almost like a mutation broke out among people from fifteen to twenty-five, to the utter consternation of the adult world. From San Francisco to Katmandu, there suddenly appeared multitudes of hippies with hair, beards, and costumes that disquietingly reminded their elders of Jesus Christ, the prophets, and the apostles—who were all at a safe historical distance.

At the peak of our technological affluence, these young people renounced the cherished values of Western civilization—the values of property and status. Richness of experience, they maintained, was far more important than things and money, in pursuit of which their parents were miserably and dutifully trapped in squirrel cages.

Scandalously, hippies did not adopt the ascetic and celibate ways of traditional holy men. They took drugs, held sexual orgies and substituted free-loving communities for the hallowed family circle. Those who hoped that all this was just an adolescent quest for kicks that would soon fade away were increasingly alarmed, for it appeared to be in lively earnest.

The hippies moved on from marijuana and LSD to Hindu chants and yoga, hardly aware that mysticism, in the form of realizing that one’s true self is the Godhead, is something Western society would not tolerate…

~ Alan Watts