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“If peace comes from seeing the whole,
then misery stems from a loss of perspective.

We begin so aware and grateful. The sun somehow hangs there in the sky. The little bird sings. The miracle of life just happens. Then we stub our toe, and in that moment of pain, the whole world is reduced to our poor little toe. Now, for a day or two, it is difficult to walk. With every step, we are reminded of our poor little toe.

Our vigilance becomes: Which defines our day—the pinch we feel in walking on a bruised toe, or the miracle still happening?

It is the giving over to smallness that opens us to misery. In truth, we begin taking nothing for granted, grateful that we have enough to eat, that we are well enough to eat. But somehow, through the living of our days, our focus narrows like a camera that shutters down, cropping out the horizon, and one day we’re miffed at a diner because the eggs are runny or the hash isn’t seasoned just the way we like.

When we narrow our focus, the problem seems everything. We forget when we were lonely, dreaming of a partner. We forget first beholding the beauty of another. We forget the comfort of first being seen and held and heard. When our view shuts down, we’re up in the night annoyed by the way our lover pulls the covers or leaves the dishes in the sink without soaking them first.

In actuality, misery is a moment of suffering allowed to become everything. So, when feeling miserable, we must look wider than what hurts. When feeling a splinter, we must, while trying to remove it, remember there is a body that is not splinter, and a spirit that is not splinter, and a world that is not splinter.”
Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have

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“We often move away from pain, which is helpful only before being hurt. Once in pain, it seems the only way out is through. Like someone falling off a boat, struggling to stay above the water only makes things worse. We must accept we are there and settle enough so we can be carried by the deep. The willingness to do this is the genesis of faith, the giving over to currents larger than us. Even fallen leaves float in lakes, demonstrating how surrender can hold us up.” 


― Mark NepoThe Book of Awakening Quotes by Mark Nepo

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‘If you have experienced hunger, you know that having food is a miracle. If you have suffered from the cold, you know the preciousness of warmth. When you have suffered, you know how to appreciate the elements of paradise that are present. If you dwell only in your suffering, you will miss paradise. Don’t ignore your suffering, but don’t forget to enjoy the wonders of life, for your sake and for the benefit of many beings.’

– Thich Nhat Hanh, in “The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching”

 

 

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 

To the Beautiful People, you know who you are.

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“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassions, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” –

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Get Real- Jeff Brown

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Photographer Erkin Demir

“I know we often want it all happy and positive, but that’s just not where much of humanity is. Many of us are overwhelmed with pain, undigested sadness, unexpressed anger, unseen truths. This is where we are at, as a collective. So we have two choices. We can continue to pretend it’s not there, shame and shun it in ourselves and others, distract and detach whenever possible. Or we can face it heart-on, own it within ourselves, look for it in others with compassion, create a culture that is focused on authenticity and healthy emotional release. If we continue to push it all down, we are both creating illness and delaying our collective expansion. But if we can just own the shadow, express it, release it, love each other through it, we can finally graduate from the School of Heart Knocks and begin to enjoy this magnificent life as we were intended. Pretending the pain isn’t there just embeds it further. Let’s illuminate it instead.”

~ Jeff Brown

Pema Chödrön-When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

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Dale Grant photography

“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know…nothing ever really attacks us except our own confusion. Perhaps there is no solid obstacle except our own need to protect ourselves from being touched. Maybe the only enemy is that we don’t like the way reality is now and therefore wish it would go away fast. But what we find as practitioners is that nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know. If we run a hundred miles an hour to the other end of the continent in order to get away from the obstacle, we find the very same problem waiting for us when we arrive. It just keeps returning with new names, forms, manifestations until we learn whatever it has to teach us about where we are separating ourselves from reality, how we are pulling back instead of opening up, closing down instead of allowing ourselves to experience fully whatever we encounter, without hesitating or retreating into ourselves.”

Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

Awakening

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“A person who is beginning to sense the suffering of life is, at the same time, beginning to awaken to deeper realities, truer realities. For suffering smashes to pieces the complacency of our normal fictions about reality, and forces us to come alive in a special sense–to see carefully, to feel deeply, to touch ourselves and our worlds in ways we have heretofore avoided.”

~Ken Wilber

Thy Wild Self 

“The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.”

-Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes