The Secret of Life

From In Defence of Sensuality (1931), by John Cowper Powys.

The more childish and unworldly a person's disposition is, the more happiness he gets from such simple things as air, water, sun, earth-mould, sand, leaves, bread, butter, honey, or the still more primeval sensation of a certain delicious drowsiness in his own limbs. This is what I mean by my recurrent image of the ichthyosaurus. What I am trying to indicate by "the ichthyosaurus-sensation" is nothing less than this simple primeval happiness in the immediate experience of being alive. To blink at that mysterious god, the sun; to stare at that equivocal goddess, the moon; to watch the incredible shapes of the clouds, as they pile up above the horizon; to observe, in early afternoon, a certain yellowish light upon a brick wall; to note a certain dark-blue wave of colour, as it sinks down upon the roofs of a city after sunset; to catch the ink-black silhouettes of bare branches against a November sky, just before the windows are lamp-lit in a roadside village; to feel the ploughed-up earth under your feet, and a cold wet wind upon your face; to sit over a fire of wood or of red coals, thinking the long thoughts of vague race-memories--all these things, belonging to a world of psychic-physical sensations that go back to the beginnings of consciousness, are the stuff of which the secret of life is made.

Pure Happiness

From The Way of Contentment (17th century, translated by Ken Hoshino in 1913), by Kaibara Ekken.

There is a happiness called pure happiness, and it is enjoyed by him who has neither too much nor too little. Though he is not recognised by the world and possesses neither position nor wealth, yet he enjoys his peace of mind and leisure hours. He lives in a house which is sufficient to protect him from wind and rain. He wears cotton cloth, and enjoys simple vegetable food. He reads books quietly, and enjoys poetry. To follow the teaching of the Sages is his delight, to see and feel the beauty of Nature his joy. Friends he has also who share with him this pure and simple pleasure in life.

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.