ARE YOU CERTAIN?

There was a Jesuit who was on the witness stand once after witnessing a crime and the defense lawyer was hammering away at his testimony. “Are you certain you saw this? Are you certain you saw that?”

After a while, the Jesuit replied, “Look buddy, I teach philosophy. Some days, I’m only 50 percent certain I exist.”

Source: Fr Richard G. Malloy, Being on Fire,
(Orbis Books, 2014) page 21

CONSIDER THIS

“Most of us don’t suffer the philosopher’s malaise. We know we are here. We know we are the person we were yesterday. None of us really think we are living a dream. We know. We know that we know. To say I don’t know would mean that I, at least, know that—that I don’t know. Therefore to claim one doesn’t know is self-refuting. Even to say you don’t know proves you’re a knower.” (Richard G. Malloy, Being on Fire, pages 21-22)

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WAKE UP AND STAY AWAKE

The disciple, wanting to tease the master, said with a chuckle, “Here’s a question for you. Imagine that you’re sleeping. Imagine that you’re dreaming. A big lion is chasing you. You try to run away and you see a tiger coming in front of you. You turn sideways, but every side you turn to, you find a ferocious animal coming after you. How can you escape?”

And the master, with a twinkle in his eye, and confidence is his voice, said, “Wake up!”

Source: As retold by Philip Chircop

CONSIDER THIS

By waking up, one enters a whole new world of reality, different from that of the dream world. What was a huge problem in the dream state becomes a non-issue in the waking state.

“We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us even in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavour. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”Henry David Thoreau, Walden

 

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WHO CARES WHAT YOU THINK?

A young man went to a Zen master. After practicing for a time the student went off on his own with instructions to faithfully send a letter to the master every month, giving an account of his spiritual progress.

In the first month, the student wrote, “I now feel an expansion of consciousness and experience of oneness with the universe.”

The master glanced at the note and threw it away.

Next month this is what the letter said: “I finally discovered the holiness that is present in all things.”

The master seemed vaguely disappointed.

A month later, the disciple enthusiastically explained, “The mystery of the one and the many has been revealed to my wondering gaze.”

The master yawned.

Two months later another letter arrived: “No one is born, no one lives, no one dies, for the self is an illusion.”

The master threw up his hands in despair,  because each letter was asking for a response, “Is this it? Is this it? Is this it?”

After that, a month passed, then two, three, five, and then a whole year. The master thought it was time to remind the disciple of his duty to keep him informed of his spiritual progress. So he sent the student a letter. The disciple wrote back, “Who cares what you think?”

When the master read those words, a great look of satisfaction spread over his face. “Finally, he got it!”

Source: Based on Jack Kornfield, After the Ecstasy, The Laundry:
How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path
(Bantam, 2001) page 119

CONSIDER THIS

Of course I care about what you think and I will listen intently to what you have to say and be present to what you have to share, but regardless of your thoughts and your words of advice, I know that many of life journeys I have to take unassisted.  Some paths are meant to be navigated by me and me alone. There will always be friends at the end of that road – to wipe your brow and perhaps give you a pat on the back for reaching the end of your quest unscathed, but the passage itself is a solitary journey.

Some paths are meant to be navigated by you and you alone. There will always be friends at the end of that road – companions to wipe your tears and your sweat, fellow seekers to give you a pat and speak a word of encouragement – but the passage itself is a solitary journey.

 

 

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THE TWO CRABS

“Why in the world do you walk sideways like that?” said a Mother Crab to her son. “You should always walk straight forward with your toes turned out.”

“Show me how to walk, mother dear,” answered the little Crab obediently, “I want to learn.”

So the old Crab tried and tried to walk straight forward. But she could walk sideways only, like her son. And when she wanted to turn her toes out she tripped and fell on her nose.

Source: The Aesop For Children: Top 100 Childrens Classics
(CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Children’s Classics edition, 2014) page 11

CONSIDER THIS

    • Do not tell others how to act unless you can set a good example.
    • Your actions speak so loud I cannot hear what you’re saying.
    • The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer. -Matthew 23:1-3

ON ONE FOOT

A rather eccentric looking young man wearing an old brown suit and holding a small, worn, stickered suitcase walked into the center of the city, spun around a few times in the middle of one of the main squares and then looked up to the skyline. Fixing his eyes on the closest church steeple, he immediately made his way to the front door of the rectory beside the church. He knocked on the door and asked to speak with the pastor. When the pastor met him in the parlor, the young man rose to his feet and immediately stood on one foot. Wearing a curious expression, the pastor asked how he could help the man. The young man said – I have come very far and wish to settle in this town and join your church; however first I would like you to instruct me in the entire faith as I stand on one foot. Assessing the man to be deranged, the pastor promptly showed him the door.

Returning to the city centre to repeat his spinning ritual, he headed in a new direction to the nearest church steeple. He made his way to the front door of the rectory and repeated his request to speak to the pastor: I have come very far and wish to settle in this town and join your church; however first I would like you to instruct me in the entire faith as I stand on one foot. Determining the young man to be irrational he also showed him the door.

A third time the young man repeated his spinning ritual and headed toward another church steeple and knocked on the door of the rectory. An old, slouched and limping, white-bearded pastor answered the door and showed him into a sitting room. The young man repeated his request saying: I have come very far and wish to settle in this town and join your church; however first I would like you to instruct me in the entire faith as I stand on one foot. The pastor looked at him through timeworn but wise eyes and smiled saying: Love God, love your neighbour, love yourself – the rest is all commentary.

Satisfied with the response, there and then, still standing on one foot,  the young man decided to settle in the city and join the parish church.

Source: Inspired by a story told by the Talmudic sage Hillel

CONSIDER THIS

Saint Augustine said that Scripture “teaches nothing but charity, and we must not leave an interpretation of scripture until we have found a compassionate interpretation of it.” 

REMEMBER RULE NUMBER 6

Two Prime ministers were sitting in a room discussing affairs of state.  Suddenly a man bursts in, apoplectic with fury, shouting and stamping and baning his fist on the desk.  The resident prime minister admonishes him: “Peter,” he says, “kindly remember Rule Number 6,” whereupon Peter is instantly restored to complete calm, apologizes, and withdraws.

The politicians return to their conversation, only to be interrupted yet again twenty minutes later by an hysterical woman gesticulating wildly, her hair flying.  Again the intruder is greeted with the words: “Marie, please remember Rule Number 6.”  Complete calm descends once more, and she too withdraws with a bow and an apology.

When the scene is repeated for a third time, the visiting prime minister addresses his colleague:  “My dear friend, I’ve seen many things in my life, but never anything as remarkable as this.  Would you be willing to share with me the secret of this Rule Number 6?” 

“Very simple,” replies the resident prime minister.  “Rule Number 6 is ‘Don’t take yourself so damn seriously.’”

“Ah,” says his visitor, “that is a fine rule.”

After a moment of pondering, he inquires, “And what, may I ask, are the other rules?”

“There aren’t any.”

Source: Benjamin Zander & Rosamund Stone Zander,
The Art of Possibility
(Penguin Books; revised edition, 2002) page 79

CONSIDER THIS

As we encounter stress and anxiety, fear and worry, let’s call to mind rule #6! When it shows up, pay attention to the negative, deconstructive inner dialogue and intentionally stop it in its tracks. Remember:

  • “Life is too important to be taken seriously.”  -Oscar Wilde
  • “Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly.” -G. K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy“The Eternal Revolution”)

BEYOND WORDS

 

Once upon a time there was a boy. He lived in a village that no longer exists, in a house that no longer exists, on the edge of a field that no longer exists, where everything was discovered and everything was possible. A stick could be a sword. A pebble could be a diamond. A tree a castle.

Once upon a time there was a boy who lived in a house across the field from a girl who no longer exists. They made up a thousand games. She was Queen and he was King. In the autumn light, her hair shone like a crown. They collected the world in small handfuls. When the sky grew dark they parted with leaves in their hair.

Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.

When they were ten he asked her to marry him. When they were eleven he kissed her for the first time. When they were thirteen they got into a fight and for three weeks they didn’t talk. When they were fifteen she showed him the scar on her left breast. Their love was a secret they told no one. He promised her he would never love another girl as long as he lived. What if I die? she asked. Even then, he said. For her sixteenth birthday he gave her an English dictionary and together they learned the words. What’s this? he’d ask, tracing his index finger around her ankle, and she’d look it up. And this? he’d ask, kissing her elbow. Elbow! What kind of word is that? and then he’d lick it, making her giggle. What about this? he asked, touching the soft skin behind her ear. I don’t know, she said, turning off the flashlight and rolling over, with a sigh, onto her back. When they were seventeen they made love for the first time, on a bed of straw in a shed. Later—when things happened that they could never have imagined—she wrote him a letter that said: When will you learn that there isn’t a word for everything?

Source: Nicole Krauss, The History of Love
W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (May 17, 2006)

CONSIDER THIS

“Her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.” What question do you want to spend your whole life answering?

“When will you learn that there isn’t a word for everything?”
What or who do you turn to when there are no words left to describe what’s happening?

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