Robert McCammon, Boy’s Life

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‘You know, I do believe in magic. I was born and raised in a magic time, in a magic town, among magicians. Oh, most everybody else didn’t realize we lived in that web of magic, connected by silver filaments of chance and circumstance. But I knew it all along. When I was twelve years old, the world was my magic lantern, and by its green spirit glow I saw the past, the present and into the future. You probably did too; you just don’t recall it. See, this is my opinion: we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allowed to wither in themselves.

After you go so far away from it, though, you can’t really get it back. You can have seconds of it. Just seconds of knowing and remembering. When people get weepy at movies, it’s because in that dark theater the golden pool of magic is touched, just briefly. Then they come out into the hard sun of logic and reason again and it dries up, and they’re left feeling a little heartsad and not knowing why. When a song stirs a memory, when motes of dust turning in a shaft of light takes your attention from the world, when you listen to a train passing on a track at night in the distance and wonder where it might be going, you step beyond who you are and where you are. For the briefest of instants, you have stepped into the magic realm.

That’s what I believe.

The truth of life is that every year we get farther away from the essence that is born within us. We get shouldered with burdens, some of them good, some of them not so good. Things happen to us. Loved ones die. People get in wrecks and get crippled. People lose their way, for one reason or another. It’s not hard to do, in this world of crazy mazes. Life itself does its best to take that memory of magic away from us. You don’t know it’s happening until one day you feel you’ve lost something but you’re not sure what it is. It’s like smiling at a pretty girl and she calls you “sir.” It just happens.

These memories of who I was and where I lived are important to me. They make up a large part of who I’m going to be when my journey winds down. I need the memory of magic if I am ever going to conjure magic again. I need to know and remember, and I want to tell you.’

How Is Your Heart Doing? By Omid Safi

In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is yourhaal?

What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know.

I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul.

Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence.

Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch.
I teach at a university where many students pride themselves on the “study hard, party hard” lifestyle. This might be a reflection of many of our lifestyles and our busy-ness — that even our means of relaxation is itself a reflection of that same world of overstimulation. Our relaxation often takes the form of action-filled (yet mindless) films, or violent and fast-paced sports.

I don’t have any magical solutions. All I know is that we are losing the ability to live a truly human life.

We need a different relationship to work, to technology. We know what we want: a meaningful life, a sense of community, a balanced existence. It’s not just about “leaning in” or faster iPhones. We want to be truly human.

W. B. Yeats once wrote, “It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a solider to fight on a battlefield.”

How exactly are we supposed to examine the dark corners of our soul when we are so busy? How are we supposed to live the examined life?

I want us to have a kind of existence where we can pause, look each other in the eye […] and inquire together: Here is how my heart is doing. […]

How is the state of your heart today?

Let us insist on a type of human-to-human connection where when one of us responds by saying, “I am just so busy,” we can follow up by saying, “I know, love. We all are. But I want to know how your heart is doing.”

Omid Safi is Director of Duke University’s Islamic Studies Center. He is the past Chair for the Study of Islam, and the current Chair for Islamic Mysticism Group at the American Academy of Religion. Reading above is excerpted from the OnBeing blog.

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‘It is amazing to me how God set this all up. The heart, I mean. Everything real comes through the heart. When it is truly opened, everything secondary falls away- egoic glory, fame and fortune, substitute gratifications. The heart doesn’t care about such things. It doesn’t hold it against you if you don’t own your own home, achieve your goals, have a perfect body. No matter our seeming differences, we are all the same when the heart gate opens. Love is the great equalizer.’

-Jeff Brown (~an excerpt from’Love it Forward’)

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‘Excessive analysis perpetuates emotional paralysis. You cannot heal and resolve your emotional material with your mind. Your emotional material does not evaporate because you watch it. You can only heal your heart with your heart. The mind is the great divider- the heart is the great connector. When it opens, healing happens…’ -Jeff Brown

gentlerays

‘Let the love that dwells inside
be released in a new way.
Let it out and let it flow in each direction
of your innermost terrain.
Let it sweep and fill old pains
and empty cases—
let it spill into the storage pile
of agonizing places.
Like that moment when you
should have left, but stayed;
or the times you felt like forfeiting,
but remained.
Let it run through the corridors
of your life story,
then up its stairs in search
for wistful memories.
Let it expose where all your precious grace
and healing treasures lay.
Let the love you keep inside
come out to be with you—
today.’

-Susan Frybort

Susan Frybort is the author of two books: ‘Hope is a Traveler’ and ‘Open Passages’.

Jeff Brown Wisdom

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‘I had a friend who died. One of the things that contributed to her death was her immersion in the mantras of the New Cage movement: the body is an illusion, your suffering is an illusion, the ego is all bad, ‘just ask for what you want and it will come’, presence is what happens when you watch your pain from across the room. These dissociative, dehumanizing perspectives were appealing to her because she wanted so desperately to turn off her pain and to find an easier way. This would have been fine if she had simply utilized these techniques as a detachment tool, but she went farther, and made them into a way of being. Unfortunately, these tools became weapons that turned against her. When her unresolved pain rose back into consciousness again- as it always will in its efforts to be seen and healed- she was now entirely ill-prepared to deal with it, having floated away from reality for so long in a pseudo enlightened spirituality-induced stupor. She couldn’t deal with the now because she was still crippled by the then. What she needed was healing, not more self-avoidance techniques. When reality became too much to bear, she ended her life, unable or unwilling to work through her material. Let there be no doubt that models that lead people away from the healing of the heart do not serve humanity. Real spirituality is all about enrealment- it includes everything human in the equation. The real now is the one that includes everything we left behind on the path. We must work through our story, before the unresolved elements of our story kill us. Prayers for those who have been led astray.’- Jeff Brown 

Shine On

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“Laugh, even when you feel too sick or too worn out or tired.
Smile, even when you’re trying not to cry and the tears are blurring your vision.
Sing, even when people stare at you and tell you your voice is crappy.
Trust, even when your heart begs you not to.
Twirl, even when your mind makes no sense of what you see.
Frolick, even when you are made fun of. Kiss, even when others are watching. Sleep, even when you’re afraid of what the dreams might bring.
Run, even when it feels like you can’t run any more.

And, always, remember, even when the memories pinch your heart. Because the pain of all your experience is what makes you the person you are now. And without your experience—you are an empty page, a blank notebook, a missing lyric. What makes you brave is your willingness to live through your terrible life and hold your head up high the next day. So don’t live life in fear. Because you are stronger now, after all the crap has happened, than you ever were back before it started.”

Alysha Speer

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Hirake Kokoro (Open Mind) by Kaori Watanabe (2007)

“If we live with a closed heart for too long, we can begin to forget what it feels like to open. Armor becomes our new normal. The work we do to heal and re-open in this mad world is some of the most important work we will ever do in our lives. Not to say that we want it wildly open at all times- there is a place for ‘conscious armoring’ when necessary- but we do want to cultivate the capacity to re-open it. And part of the process, at least in my own experience, has been to feel a bit of sadness when it closes… I miss my heart.” –Jeff Brown 

Open Your Heart- Chögyam Trungpa

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“Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world tickle your heart, your raw and beautiful heart. You are willing to open up, without resistance or shyness, and face the world. You are willing to share your heart with others.”

-Chögyam Trungpa 

                            Image from Creativelife.cz