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‘When you look back at your own life, you see that with the suffering you went through, you would have avoided it each time if you possibly could, yet when you look at the depths of your character now, and the fact that you’re sitting here doing this work, you see it’s all a product of those experiences.

Weren’t those experiences part of what created the depth of your inner being?
I look back over the times when I was suffering miserably. I certainly wouldn’t lay it on myself if I’d had a choice, but it happened. It was part of the working out of my life plan, and now when I look back in perspective, I see the power of those experiences. I see how they deepened something in me that was necessary for the moment.’

– Ram Dass

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Living With The Wound -Mark Nepo

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‘There is a need to be specific
if we are to survive,
which requires being honest,
the way seeing requires
the eyes to stay open.

It means I can tell you
when you hurt me
and still count on your love.

It means being honest
with myself, knowing
the ugly things are not
always someone else’s.

I’ve been thinking how
practical people cut the cord
to those who’ve broken hope,
the way breeders shoot horses
with broken legs, as if
there’s nothing to be done.

Now I know they do this
for themselves, not wanting
to care for a horse that cannot run,
not wanting to sit with a friend
who can’t find tomorrow, not wanting
to be saddled with anything
that will slow them down.

I used to think it bad timing.
When I was up, you were down.
When you were ready,
I was scared. But since
we’ve never given up on each other,
it’s clear that drinking wonder
when we’re sad is how we shed
the things we love about pain.

I have a right to joy
even when lonely,
even when in pain,
and you never need
to cover your wounds
when entering my house.

If your voice breaks, I’ll be a cup.
If your heart sweats, I’ll be a pillow
on which you’ll chance to dream
that weeping is singing
through an instrument
that’s hard to reach,
though it lands us like lightning
in the grasp of each other
where giving is a mirror
of all we cannot teach.’

 

-Mark Nepo

Don’t you just love Jeff Brown’s ability to cut through the bullshit?

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‘EVERYTHING is not a gift. There may be valued transformation that arises from many experiences, but that doesn’t mean that EVERY experience is a gift. If we lean too far in that direction, we will deny trauma and victimhood all together, something we have been mistakenly doing for centuries. No, everything is not a gift. Some experiences are horrors, and it is all we can do to heal from them. To suggest that someone MUST find the gift in them, is to add insult to injury. It is also to create a culture that welcomes all horrors, because, after all- “everything is a gift.” Let’s keep it grounded- sometimes, it’s a gift. Sometimes it’s a horror. And the only who can decide that is the person who had the experience.’ -JEFF BROWN

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.

There is Hope

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“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”

 Rumi

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