Learning how to be kind

"Learning how to be kind to ourselves, learning how to respect ourselves, is important. The reason it's important is that, fundamentally, when we look into our own hearts and begin to discover what is confused and what is brilliant, what is bitter and what is sweet, it isn't just ourselves that we're discovering. We're discovering the universe."
Ane Pema Chodron



"Ubuntu" is not easy to describe because it has no equivalent in any of the Western languages...Ubuntu speaks to the essence of being human and our understanding that the human person is corporate. The solitary individual is in our understanding a contradiction in terms. You are a person through other persons. Ubuntu speaks about the importance of communal harmony... speaks about warmth, compassion, generosity, hospitality, and seek to embrace others."
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate



" The human being in whom the earth has become spiritually aware, has awakened into consciousness, has become self-aware and self-reflecting. In the human, the earth begins to reflect upon itself. In our deepest definition and deepest subjectivity, we humans are earth. Conscious."
Sister Miriam McGillis


"When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down "happy". They told me I didn't understand the assignment. I told them they didn't understand life." ~ John Lennon



"Choose one side of a dilemma and the other side resurfaces with a vengeance. For picking one side or being "one-sided" about a true dilemma only delays and even intensifies the issue. Choose one side and the conflict will return at a deeper level at some future time. That's the nature of the genuine dilemmas of life in this left and right, dark and light, abundant and empty world. Only when the tension of opposing forces can be held long enough does a genuine solution appear that can dissolve the tension and renew the flow of life at another level."
Michael Mead, in his book "The World Behind the World"


Right relationship

"Right relationship means right relationship with the elements, the land, the sacred directions...The seed of pure mind is within all people. It is always there. It is not made impure. Our actions may be impure and set up a stream of reactions, but always we can come again to the seed of pure mind and right relationship... it is time now for people to choose. Their first step is to see the power of your own consciousness... The common kernel is care for all beings, good relationship, cycles of reciprocity, generosity, giving of oneself, being an empty bowl so you can know what is."
Dhyani Ywahoo - in Voices of Our Ancestors


Discover what is already there.

"Every day we slaughter our finest impulses. That is why we get a heartache when we read those lines written by the hand of a master and recognize them as our own, as the tender shoots which we stifled because we lacked the faith to believe in our own powers, our own criterion of truth and beauty. Every man, when he gets quiet, when he becomes desperately honest with himself, is capable of uttering profound truths. We all derive from the same source. there is no mystery about the origin of things. We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, only to discover what is already there."
Henry Miller


Who is hearing?

Who is hearing? Our physical being doesn't hear, nor does the void. Then what does? Strive to find out. Put aside rational Intellect, give up all techniques. Just get rid of the notion of self. What is this mind? 
Who is hearing these sounds? 
Do not mistake any state for 
Self-realization, but continue to ask even more intensely, 
what is it that hears?


become human

We become human by talking and listening to each other. Individual heroes and impersonal corporations have failed at leading people as though they're machines. That paradigm, now ending, has brought overwhelming problems that we can't solve from the same level of consciousness that created them.
Margaret Wheatley


The greatest evildoers...

"The greatest evildoers are those who don't remember because they have never given thought to the matter, and, without remembrance, nothing can hold them back. For human beings, thinking of past matters means moving in the dimension of depth, striking roots and thus stabilizing ourselves, so as not to be swept away by whatever may occur-the Zeitgeist or History or simple temptation. The greatest evil is not radical, it has no roots, and because it has no roots it has no limitations, it can go to unthinkable extremes and sweep over the whole world."
Hanna Arendt

Anything less... is just something less.

"Earthkind has grown from pack to village... and then from village to tribe, then from tribe to territory...and from territory to nation. It is time to go from nation to planet. The First Earth Battalion hereby declares its primary allegiance to the planet... Making this planet whole... requires the ethical use of force. But even subcultures of force must evolve into a master culture. The Army is no exception....Soldiers are in the business of life and death. As a leader during war, I must know that if my soldiers are to die... that it's for the right reasons. When at peace they deserve nothing less than a chance of personal evolution. Soldiers can be a real part of the evolution of this Earth. Anything less... is just something less.
Excerpted from "The First Earth Battalion: Dare to Think the Unthinkable, Ideas and Ideals for Soldiers Everywhere" by Jim Channon, Lt. Col. (Ret), US Army, in the Journal of Non-Lethal Combatives, February 2000


Subtle Ray

The universe is a vast net of energy rays. The primary ray is that which emanates from the Subtle Origin, and it is entirely positive, creative, and constructive. Each being, however, converts the energy of this primary ray into its own ray, and these lower rays can be either positive or negative, constructive or destructive. An individual who is not yet fully evolved can be adversely affected by negative energy rays in the net around him. For example, the combined influence of several negative rays might cause an undeveloped person to believe that his life is being controlled by an invisible, oppressive ruler. Such a misconception can be a significant barrier to enlightenment. To attain full evolution and the status of an integral being, you must be aware of this intricate net and its influences upon you. By integrating the positive, harmonious energy rays with the positive elements of your own being, and eliminating the subtle negative influences, you can enhance all aspects of your life. In order to eliminate the negative influences, simply ignore them. To integrate the positive influences, consciously reconnect yourself with the primary energy ray of the Subtle Origin by adopting the practices of the Integral Way. Then all the rays in the net around you will merge back into harmonious oneness.
Lao Tsu ~ Hua Hu Ching ~ #57

We use the word 'love'

"We use the word 'love' but we have no more understanding of love than we do of anger or fear or jealousy or even joy, because we have seldom investigated what that state of mind is. What are the feelings we so quickly label as love? For many what is called love is not lovely at all but is a tangle of needs and desires, of momentary ecstasies and bewilderment - moments of unity, of intense feelings of closeness, occur in a mind so fragile that the least squint or sideways glance shatters its oneness into a dozen ghostly paranoias. When we say love we usually mean some emotion, some deep feeling for an object or a person, that momentarily allows us to open to another. But in such emotional love, self-protection is never far away. Still there is "business" to the relationship: clouds of jealousy, possessiveness, guilt, intentional and unintentional manipulation, separateness and the shadow of all previous 'loves' darken the light of oneness. But what I mean by love is not an emotion, it is a state of being. True love has no object." - Steven and Ondrea Levine

When we cease from human thought

"If we have become a people incapable of thought, then the brute-thought of mere power and mere greed will think for us. If we have become incapable of denying ourselves anything, then all that we have will be taken from us. If we have no compassion, we will suffer alone, we will suffer alone the destruction of ourselves. These are merely the laws of this world as know to Shakespeare, as known to Milton. When we cease from human thought, a low and effective cunning stirs in the most inhuman minds."
Wendell Berry, Sabbaths 2005 in LEAVINGS


...to serve first

"It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions...The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature."
Robert K. Greenleaf


The Places That Scare You

"The fixed idea that we have about ourselves as a solid and separate from each other is painfully limiting. It is possible to move through the drama of our lives without believing so earnestly in the character that we play. That we take ourselves so seriously, that we are so absurdly important in our own minds, is a problem for us. We feel justified in being annoyed with everything. We feel justified in denigrating ourselves or in feeling that we are more clever than the rest of the people. Self-importance is like a prison for us, limit us to the world of our likes an dislikes. We end up bored to death with ourselves and our world. We end up very dissatisfied...We have two alternatives: either we take everything to be sure and real-or we don't. Either we accept our fixed versions of reality-or we begin to question them...To train to stay open and curious-to train in dissolving the barriers that we erect between ourselves and the world-is the best use of our human lives."
Pema Chodron's



"The small man builds cages for everyone he knows. While the sage keeps dropping keys all night long for the beautiful, rowdy prisoners.......!" Hafiz


Serve first

"It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions...The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature."
- Robert K. Greenleaf

Sensual longing

"There is almost a sensual longing for communion with others who have a large vision. The immense fulfillment of the friendship between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality impossible to describe."
~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin


Right question

"If you ask the wrong question, of course, you get the wrong answer. We find in design it's much more important and difficult to ask the right question. Once you do that, the right answer becomes obvious." "I think along the way, as we treat nature as model and mentor, and not as a nuisance to be evaded or manipulated, we will certainly acquire much more reverence for life
than we seem to be showing right now."
Amory Lovins


"The heart is a leisurely muscle.

"The heart is a leisurely muscle.It differs from all other muscles How many pushups can you make before the muscles in your arms and stomach get so tired that you have to stop? But your heart muscle goes on working for as long as you live. It does not get tired, because there is a phase of rest built into every single heartbeat. Our physical heart works leisurely. And when we speak of the heart in a wider sense, the idea is implied that life-giving leisure lies at the very center. Never to lose sight of that central place of leisure in our lives would keep us youthful and strong. Seen in this light, leisure is not a privilege, but a virtue. Leisure is not the privilege of a few who can afford to take time, but the virtue of all who are willing to give time to what takes time - to give as much time as a task rightly takes."
Brother David Steindl-Rast


Here's to the crazy ones

"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."


"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart." ~ Steve Jobs



"At the deepest level, the creative process and the healing process arise from a single source. When you are an artist, you are a healer; a wordless trust of the same mystery is the foundation of your work and its integrity."
~Rachel Naomi Remen, MD


Reflections of an Elder Brother

"But of course, if you are not going to create with consciousness, then your unconscious will do the creating for you. Lack of attention produces unconscious creations. Why does every teacher say, "Stay in the moment"? Because in the moment you hold the reigns of creation, and the renegade unconscious is gently, obediently placed under your control. When you are out of the moment the renegade can run amok, creating what you no longer want out of reliving the past or fantasizing about the future.:"
- Bartholomew, Reflections of an Elder Brother


Absolute manifests

"A person is not a thing or a process, but an opening through which the absolute manifests."
-- Martin Heidegger


Support Our Future

Sustainability and restoration is about playing an infinite game, and in an infinite game you change the rules anytime something threatens to stop the game. You change the rules so the game can continue going because the point is play. Nobody would want to end the game because you'd stop playing. Infinite games pay it forward; they fill future coffers. They're called family, they're called going down the Columbia River with your kids on a raft, playing Huckleberry Finn. They're called samba. They're called song telling, like hip-hop. They're called storytelling. They're called tree sitting. These are the endless ways in which generous people support our future and our children and our planet."


Be patient

"Be patient with everyone, but above all with yourself. I mean do not be disheartened by your imperfections, but always rise up with fresh courage. How are we to be patient in dealing with our neighbor's faults if we are impatient in dealing with our own? He who is fretted by his own failings will not correct them. All profitable correction comes from a calm, peaceful mind."
--St. Francis de Sales


A leader...

"A leader is a person who has an unusual degree of power to project on other people his or her shadow or his or her light. A leader is a person who has an unusual degree of power to create the conditions under which other people must live and move and have their being-conditions that can either be as illuminating as heaven or as shadowy as hell. A leader is a person who must take special responsibility for what's going on inside him or her self, inside his or her consciousness, lest the act of leadership create more harm than good. The problem is that people rise to leadership in our society by a tendency towards extroversion, which means a tendency to ignore what is going on inside themselves. Leaders rise to power in our society by operating very competently and effectively in the external world, sometimes at the cost of internal awareness. I've looked at some training programs for leaders. I'm discouraged by how often they focus on the development of skills to manipulate the external world rather than the skills necessary to go inward and make the inner journey."
Parker Palmer: founder and senior partner of the Center for Courage & Renewal.


From the Autobiography of Han Shan:

“I then went to sit on a solitary wooden bridge and meditated thre every day. At first, I heard the stream flowing very clearly, but as time passed I could hear the sound only if I willed it. If I stirred my mind, I could hear it, but if I kept my mind still I head nothing. One day, while sitting on the bridge, I suddenly felt that I had no body. It had vanished, together with the sound around me. Since then I have never been disturbed by any sound. My daily food was a gruel of bran, weeds, and rise water. When I first came to the mountain someone had given me three packs of rice, which lasted for more than six months. One day, after having my gruel, I took a walk. Suddenly I stood still, filled with the realization that I had no body and no mind. All I could see was one great illuminating Whole, omnipresent, perfect, lucid, and serene. It was like an all-embracing mirror from which the mountains and rivers of the earth were projected as reflections. When I awoke from this experience, I felt as “clear-and-transparent” as though my body and mind did not exist at all. From then on, both inward and outward experience became lucidly clear. Sounds, voices, visions, scenes, forms, and objects were no longer hindrances. All my former doubts dissolved into nothing. When I returned to my kitchen, I found the cauldron covered with dust. Many days had passed during my experience, of which I, being alone, was unaware.”


There's so much mystery

"I don't think that faith, whatever you're being faithful about, really can be scientifically explained. And I don't want to explain this whole life business through truth, science. There's so much mystery. There's so much awe. I mean, what is it that make the chimpanzees do these spectacular displays, rain dances, I call them, when-- waterfall dances at the foot of this waterfall. And then sit in the spray and watch the water that's always coming and always going and always here. It's wonder. It's awe. And if they had the same kind of language that we have, I suspect that would turn into some kind of animistic religion."
Jane Goodall


Whatever your age

"Whatever your age, your upbringing, or your education, what you are made of is mostly unused potential. It is your evolutionary destiny to use what is unused, to learn and keep on learning for as long as you live. To choose this destiny, to walk the path of mastery, isn't always easy, but it is the ultimate human adventure. Destinations will appear in the distance, will be achieved and left behind, and still the path will continue. It will never end."
George Leonard


Song of the Doppelgänger

I was there, and saw the half-ton rope
of human hair coiled like a python,
glinting. I don’t know when the war was fought,
why, or where it stopped, but believe
in the mighty engine perspiring behind the screen
and as much as I can
in the notion of good. I find less to praise.
I’ve been to the Sinai, to Kiyomizu-dera.
I went to Hiroshima and didn’t cry. I know pretty well
what my promises are worth,
know the worth of material things.
Just this summer I heard a raven sing
and thought of a stone rebounding
down a bottomless jar.

From Charms Against Lightning
by James Arthur

Endure forever

Knowing others is intelligence; knowing myself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering myself is true power.
IfI realize that I have enough, I am truly rich. If I stay in the center and embrace death with my whole heart, I will endure forever.


True feeling

"That oneness is the true feeling of who we are. We are not the personality, or any particular aspect of essence. We are the whole thing, including emptiness and space, and we experience everything in complete harmony. When this happens, there is a sense of intimacy, an exquisite, personal intimacy, nothing excluded, nothing rejected. We also feel that we are both a person and a universal existence, that what is personal and what is universal are completely harmonious and can coexist. When our whole organism is in harmony on all its levels, there is no conflict. Love emanates from us like the scent from a rose."


Seeking the spiritual

"There is something in all of us that seeks the spiritual....The spiritual is inclusive. It is the deepest sense of belonging and participation. We all participate in the spiritual at all times, whether we know it or not. There's no place to go to be separated from the spiritual, so perhaps one might say that the spiritual is that realm of human experience which religion attempts to connect us to through dogma and practice. Sometimes it succeeds and sometimes it fails. Religion is a bridge to the spiritual--but the spiritual lies beyond religion. Unfortunately, in seeking the spiritual we may become attached to the bridge rather than crossing over it."
Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D


Sacred Plaace

"To have a sacred place is an absolute necessity for anybody today. You must have a room or a certain hour of the day or so, where you do not know who your friends are, you don't know what you owe anybody or what they owe you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be...This is the place of creative incubation. At first, you may find nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, take advantage of it, something will happen."
Joseph Campbell

"The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are"

"It is said that humanity has evolved one-sidedly, growing in technical power without any comparable growth in moral integrity, or, as some would prefer to say, without comparable progress in education and rational thinking. Yet the problem is more basic. The root of the matter is the way in which we feel and conceive ourselves as human beings, our sensation of being alive, of individual existence and identity. We suffer from a hallucination, from a false and distorted sensation of our own existence as living organisms- Most of us have the sensation that "I myself" is a separate center of feeling and action, living inside and bounded by the physical body--a center which "confronts an "external" world of people and things, making contact through the senses with a universe both alien and strange. Everyday figures of speech reflect this illusion. "I came into this world." "You must face reality." "The conquest of nature." This feeling of being lonely and very temporary visitors in the universe is in flat contradiction to everything known about man (and all other living organisms) in the sciences. We do not "come into" this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean "waves," the universe "peoples." Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe. This fact is rarely, if ever, experienced by most individuals. Even those who know it to be true in theory do not sense or feel it, but continue to be aware of themselves as isolated "egos" inside bags of skin. The first result of this illusion is that our attitude to the world "outside" us is largely hostile. We are forever "conquering" nature, space, mountains, deserts, bacteria, and insects instead of learning to cooperate with them in a harmonious order. In America the great symbols of this conquest are the bulldozer and the rocket--the instrument that batters the hills into flat tracts for little boxes made of ticky-tacky and the great phallic projectile that blasts the sky. (Nonetheless, we have fine architects who know how to fit houses into hills without ruining the landscape, and astronomers who know that the earth is already way out in space, and that our first need for exploring other worlds is sensitive electronic instruments which, like our eyes, will bring the most distant objects into our own brains.) The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events--that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies--and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.
Philosopher Alan Watts


Wandering attention

"The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention is the very root of judgment, character and will. No one is really in control of themselves if they do not have this. An education which would improve this faculty would be the education par excellence."
William James



"Power properly understood is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose.” One of the great problems of history is that the concepts of love and power have usually been contrasted as opposites - polar opposites - so that love is identified with a resignation of power, and power with a denial of love. We've got to get this thing right. What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love. It is precisely this collision of immoral power with powerless morality which constitutes the major crisis of our time."
(Martin Luther King, Jr.)


Empty your mind

Empty your mind of all thoughts. Let your heart be at peace. Watch the turmoil of beings, but contemplate their return. Each separate being in the universe returns to the common source. Returning to the source is serenity. If you don't realize the source, you stumble in confusion and sorrow. When you realize where you come from, you naturally become tolerant, disinterested, amused, kindhearted as a grandmother, dignified as a king. Immersed in the wonder of the Tao, you can deal with whatever life brings you, and when death comes, you are ready.
Lao Tse


Can't prove, can't explain

"I had an experience I can't prove, I can't even explain it, but everything that I know as a human being, everything that I am tells me that it was real. It was part of something wonderful, something that changed me forever; a vision of the Universe that tells us undeniably how tiny, and insignificant, and how rare and precious we all are. A vision that tells us we belong to something that is greater than ourselves. That we are not, that none of us, are alone."
Carl Sagan


"If you wish to attain oneness with the Tao, don't get caught up in spiritual superficialities. Instead, live a quiet and simple life, free of ideas and concepts. Find contentment in the practice of undiscriminating virtue, the only true power. Giving to others selflessly and anonymously, radiating light through the world and illuminating your own darkness, your virtue becomes a sanctuary for yourself and all beings. This is what is meant by embodying the Tao."
Brian Walker's translation of Hua Hu Ching: The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tsu (#47)


Thomas Berry

"The universe is a communion and a community. We ourselves are that communion become conscious of itself."


"You cannot step twice into the same river."


Less efficient

"Globalized industrialized food is not cheap: it is too costly for the Earth, for the farmers, for our health. The Earth can no longer carry the burden of groundwater mining, pesticide pollution, disappearance of species and destabilization of the climate. Farmers can no longer carry the burden of debt, which is inevitable in industrial farming with its high costs of production. It is incapable of producing safe, culturally appropriate, tasty, quality food. And it is incapable of producing enough food for all because it is wasteful of land, water and energy. Industrial agriculture uses ten times more energy than it produces. It is thus ten times less efficient."
— Vandana Shiva


Courage in the absence of certainty

"In the absence of certainty, one must have courage. Courage requires overcoming our fear of the unknown... We are afraid of letting go that chaos requires, because we believe our world will fall apart without strict control. And yet the new science of chaos theory tells us there is an underlying order to the universe that does not require our control, and that chaos can be a gateway to quantum leaps in improvement."
Daniel Kim

Northern Lights over Iceland, March 2011


All connected

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. -George Orwell
The world will not evolve past its current state of crisis by using the same thinking that created the situation. -Albert Einstein
If we have no peace it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other. -Mother Teresa


Since Universe is Energy

"Since Universe is Energy, part of the process of understanding, at least as I experience it, is to learn to 'see' flows of energy and specificities of energy. Both are necessary. Because, you see, Universe is both Whole and Specific. Western science is beginning to understand this through explorations about particle and wave. Both particle/particularity/specificity of Universe and the wave/flow of Universe were aspects I was encouraged as a child to apprehend and understand. I was asked to 'see' the dancing points of light" and then to apprehend the shift from location to flow. Much of shamanic practice has to do with developing the ability to enter and use this shift."
Paula Underwood Spensor, from the Indigenous wisdom of the Oneida tradition.