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The Need for Empty Places

From The Serpent and the Wave: A Guide to Movement Meditation (1995), by Jalaja Bonheim.


To rebalance ourselves, we must consciously search out empty places. Spend some time in the desert or by the ocean. Lie down on a hillside and gaze into the sky, or into the infinity of a starlit night. Create an empty, uncluttered, yet beautiful space in your home—a room with white walls, a simple seat, and perhaps a flower, or a candle. Dare to spend more time alone, granting yourself moments of nothingness—of sitting quietly, breathing, just being. Such spaces of simplicity and non-doing are healing medicine. In the same way, the most healing movements are empty ones, free of intention and purpose. Like the wind, like the falling of snowflakes, they simply are. We need open spaces inside us. We should take care not to obliterate such spaces, for they are like the stained glass windows in a cathedral, letting in the sunlight.

Garden of Serenity

From A Chinese Garden of Serenity (1959), by Hung Tzu-ch'eng, translated by Chao Tze-chiang:

The spirit of man communes with Heaven; the omnipotence of Heaven resides in man. Is the distance between Heaven and man very great?

The Vanity of Glory

From The Divine Comedy, Volume 2, Purgatory (1320), by Dante Aligheri, translated by Charles Eliot Norton in 1892.


Worldly renown is naught but a breath of wind, which now comes hence and now comes thence, and changes name because it changes quarter. What more fame shalt thou have, if thou strippest old flesh from thee, than if thou hadst died ere thou hadst left the pap and the chink, before a thousand years have passed?—which is a shorter space compared to the eternal than a movement of the eyelids to the circle that is slowest turned in Heaven.

The Universe as One Living Being

From The Thoughts of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antonius , by Marcus Aurelius Antonius. (Written circa 170 CE; translated by George Long in 1862).


Constantly regard the universe as one living being, having one substance and one soul; and observe how all things have reference to one perception, the perception of this one living being; and how all things act with one movement; and how all things are the co-operating causes of all things which exist; observe too the continuous spinning of the thread and the contexture of the web.

Garden of Serenity

From A Chinese Garden of Serenity (1959), by Hung Tzu-ch'eng, translated by Chao Tze-chiang:

If a man aims at finding the ebb and flow of life in a decayed tree or withered grass, an inaudible sound or a savorless taste, he becomes a bellows for the fires of heaven and earth and a root to men and to objects.

The Two Halves of Human Consciousness

From Creative Meditation and Multi-Dimensional Consciousness (1984), by Anagarika Govinda.


Only he who, while fully recognizing and understanding his Western heritage, penetrates and absorbs the heritage of the East, can gain the highest values of both worlds and do justice to them. East and West are the two halves of our human consciousness, comparable to the two poles of a magnet, which condition and correspond to each other and cannot be separated. Only if man realizes this fact will he become a complete human being.

Garden of Serenity

From A Chinese Garden of Serenity (1959), by Hung Tzu-ch'eng, translated by Chao Tze-chiang:

Those desolate door-steps where foxes crouch and those deserted terraces where rabbits ramble, might in olden days have been places for singing and dancing. There where yellow flowers are chilled by dew and where faded grass is obscured by mist, might once have been battlegrounds. Can prosperity and decline remain constant? Where are the victors and the vanquished of old?

Material Poverty, Spiritual Richness

From Wabi-Sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers (1994), by Leonard Koren.


Wabi-sabi means treading lightly on the planet and knowing how to appreciate whatever is encountered, no matter how trifling, whenever it is encountered. “Material poverty, spiritual richness” are wabi-sabi bywords. In other words, wabi-sabi tells us to stop our preoccupation with success--wealth, status, power, and luxury--and enjoy the unencumbered life.

Obviously, leading the simple wabi-sabi life requires some effort and will and also some tough decisions. Wabi-sabi acknowledges that just as it is important to know when to make choices, it is also important to know when not to make choices: to let things be. Even at the most austere level of material existence, we still live in a world of things. Wabi-sabi is exactly about the delicate balance between the pleasure we get from things and the pleasure we get from freedom from things.

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Garden of Serenity

From A Chinese Garden of Serenity (1959), by Hung Tzu-ch'eng, translated by Chao Tze-chiang:

When a man contends for supremacy, he contends like the sparks flashed between two stones. How long can those sparks last? When he fights for victory, he fights in the horn of a snail. How large a world is that horn?

A New Religion

From In Defence of Sensuality (1930), by John Cowper Powys.


Ay, the moment has arrived in the history of our Western world when a new religion is on the verge of breaking forth and spreading like wild-fire among us.

One cannot yet prophesy what world-deep rapture this religion will bring. But this, surely, one can prophesy. It will be a religion that will help individual men and women to shake themselves free from the factious, shallow, vulgar, sneering humour of the commonplace world. It will be a religion of intense gravity and intense earnestness. It will be a religion that actually worships the sun, the moon, the earth, the sea, the wind, the seasons. It will be a religion that strips off the hot, feverish, gregarious, over-human garments of the other religions. It will be a religion that could be shared by the non-human consciousness of trees enjoying the rain, of crows sailing across the sky, of cattle grazing in the fields, of fishes poised motionless in the river, of vipers basking in the sun, of ancient cosmogonic rocks breathing the air and feeling the magic of moonlight. In my own. symbolic words it will be a religion of the "ichthyosaurus-ego."

It will be the most sacramental and the most ritualistic religion--but at the same time the most subjective one--that has ever existed; for every morsel of food and every drop of drink will be exquisitely godlike to it! Sleep, with all its mystical intimations, will be the greatest of its sacraments. Indolent, idle, dreamy, care-free thoughts will be the incense of its casual breath. Leisure will be its cathedral-court, and sensuous sensation its high-altar! Its piety will be drawn from the organic atavisms of planetary life, its ritual from the long centuries of human experience. Its moral virtue will consist in just being "kind" in the most simple of all senses, and in this alone! The best-remembered, though not the best-loved, of all its many gods will be the ultimate First Cause; and the great daimon Chance will be its Holy Ghost.