4 April 2017
true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task garden;
heaven is a playground.
It’s only in our minds that we are
from the rest of the world.
When you know what your values are,
making decisions becomes easier.
Glenn van Eckeren
real voyage of discovery lies not in finding
new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
young woman returning from work was involved in a car
accident that left her with severe head injuries.
After several days in a coma, she awoke in hospital only
to discover that she didn't know who she was. Not
only had she forgotten herself but also everything and
everyone in her life. Her initial panic was eased by
the doctors' reassurance that her memory was likely to
return. As the days passed in the hospital, she was
much comforted by the visits from many kind people who
spent time with her, who seemed to know who she was.
There was one elderly man who spent hours by her bedside,
sometimes reading to her, sometimes telling her stories of
her life, and often just sitting quietly with her.
In the comfort offered by his undemanding presence, she
could share the anxieties and fears so alive in her heart.
Her memory began to return, vague fragments and images
triggering greater and greater detail, until her life and
story were once again accessible to her. The
recovery of her memory was not only a recovery of herself
but also of everyone in her life. The kind,
understanding man she had been so reassured by was her
father, whom she shared a troubled history with. To
their amazement they discovered that her recovery enabled
them to pick up their arguments at the very point they had
left them before her accident.
they found themselves fighting familiar battles and all
the old stories were recycled. The peaceful,
intimate moments they had shared during her crisis became
distant memories, lost in the intensity of their
frustration, impatience, and struggle with each
other. Once in a while they would look at each other
and remember those blessed moments when no history stood
and amnesia are not recommended ways to cultivate a
beginner's mind. Yet the beginner's mind is a
pivotal key to unlocking the peace of simplicity. It
is the simple clarity of the beginner's mind that enables
us to enter each moment, relationship, and encounter free
of prejudice and history. The cultivation of the
beginner's mind is what frees us to greet every moment in
our life with an openhearted welcome, to see ourselves,
other people, and all of life anew; to be able to make new
We collect, store, and accumulate so much weight in this
life. The thousands of thoughts, ideas, and plans we
have are imprinted on our minds. We have engaged in
countless conversations and have replayed many of them
over and over again. We have moved from one
experience to another, one encounter to another, and we
think about them all. Information and knowledge has
been gathered, digested, and stored, and we carry all of
this with us. This input forms our story, the story
we have about people, ourselves, and the world.
Experiencing the chaos and turbulence of the saturated
mind and heart, forgetfulness may look like a
blessing. Yet our innate capacity to receive the
world, a source of both complexity and of compassion, will
always be with us.
The beginner's mind has a simple vocabulary founded upon
questioning and the willingness to learn. There are
Zen meditative traditions that rest upon bringing one
simple question into each moment: "What is
this?" Whatever arises in our hearts, minds,
and bodies is greeted with a probing investigation.
What is this thought, this body, this experience, this
feeling, this interaction, this moment? It is a
question intended to dissolve all assumptions, images,
opinions, and familiarity. It is a question that
brings a welcoming presence into each moment; a question
that perceives neither obstacles nor enemies; a question
that appreciates the rich seam of learning offered in
every encounter and moment. It is an "every
moment" practice, in which our capacity to listen and
attend unconditionally is treasured as the means of
The expert's mind has a different vocabulary, expressing a
devotion to "knowing" deeper than the devotion
to freedom. The expert's mind is the mind entangled
with its history, accumulated opinions and judgments, and
past experience. The most frequently occurring word
in the mind of the expert is "again." What
a long story the word "again" can carry.
We can sense the shutters of our heart closing as we
whisper to ourselves, "This thought, this feeling,
this pain, this person again." The intrusion of
the past with all its comparisons, weariness, aversion, or
boredom has the power to create a powerful disconnection
in that moment. The word "again" carries
with it the voice of knowing, fixing, and dismissing, and
with its appearance we say farewell to mystery, to wonder,
to openness, and to learning. Whenever we are not
touched deeply by the moment we say farewell to the
beginner's mind. An ancient teacher reminds us,
"There is great enlightenment where there is great
wonder. . . ."
How much of the knowledge, information, and strategies of
our story serve us well? In our life story we
experience hurt, pain, fear and rejection, at times caused
by others, at others self-inflicted. Understanding
what causes sorrow, pain, and devastation translates into
discriminating wisdom, and we do not knowingly expose
ourselves to these conditions. We are all asked to
make wise choices in our lives--choices rooted in
understanding rather than fear.
The Buddha used the analogy of a raft. Walking
beside a great river, the bank we are standing on is
dangerous and frightening and the other bank is
safe. We collect branches and foliage to build a
raft to transport us to the other shore. Having made
the journey safely, supposing we picked up the raft and
carried it on our head wherever we went. Would we be
using the raft wisely? The obvious answer is
"No." A reasonable person would know how
useful the raft has been, but wisdom would be to leave the
raft behind and walk on unencumbered.
people behind the words
and excerpts - Daily
Two - Year Three
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Wayfarer on the Open Road
love the fields and the wild flowers, the stars,
the far-open sea, the soft, warm earth, and to
live much with them alone; but to love
struggling and weary men and women and every
pulsing, living creature better.
OUR complex modern life, especially in our
larger centers, gets us running so many times
into grooves that we are prone to miss, and
sometimes for long periods, the all-round,
completer life. We are led at times almost to
forget that the stars come nightly to the sky,
or even that there is a sky; that there are
hedgerows and groves where the birds are always
singing and where we can lie on our backs and
watch the treetops swaying above us and the
clouds floating by an hour or hours at a time;
where one can live with his soul or, as Whitman
has put it, where one can loaf and invite his
changes from the duties and the cares of our
accustomed everyday life. They are necessary for
healthy, normal living.
We need occasionally to be away from our
friends, our relatives, from the members of our
immediate households. Such changes are good for
us; they are good for them.
We appreciate them better, they us, when
we are away from them for a period, or they from
We need these changes occasionally in order to
find new relations—this in a twofold sense.
By such changes there come to our minds
more clearly the better qualities of those with
whom we are in constant association; we lose
sight of the little frictions and irritations
that arise; we see how we can be more
considerate, appreciative, kind.
In one of those valuable essays of Prentice
Mulford entitled ''Who Are Our Relations?"
he points us to the fact, and with so much
insight and common sense, that our relations are
not always or necessarily those related to us by
blood ties, those of our immediate households,
but those most nearly allied to us in mind and
in spirit, many times those we have never seen,
but that we shall sometime, somewhere be drawn
to through the ceaselessly working Law of
Attraction, whose basis is that like attracts
so in staying too closely with the accustomed
relations we may miss the knowledge and the
companionship of those equally or even more
We need these changes to get the kinks out of
our minds, our nerves, our muscles—the cobwebs
off our faces.
We need them to whet again the edge of
need them to invite the mind and the soul to new
possibilities and powers.
We need them in order to come back with
new implements, or with implements redressed,
sharpened, for the daily duties.
It is like the chopper working too long
with axe unground.
There comes the time when an hour at the
stone will give it such persuasive power that he
can chop and cord in the day what he otherwise
would in two or more, and with far greater ease
We need periods of being by ourselves—alone.
Sometimes a fortnight or even a week will
do wonders for one, unless he or she has drawn
too heavily upon the account.
The simple custom, moreover, of taking an
hour, or even a half hour, alone in the quiet,
in the midst of the daily routine of life, would
be the source of inestimable gain for countless
If such changes can be in closer contact with
the fields and with the flowers that are in
them, the stars and the sea that lies open
beneath them, the woods and the wild things that
are of them, one cannot help but find himself
growing in love for and an ever fuller
appreciation of these, and being at the same
time so remade and unfolded that his love, his
care, and his consideration for all mankind and
for every living creature, will be the greater.
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knew another man, the late Harlow B. Andrews of Syracuse, New York,
who had this same kind of approach. "Let's see what
are in this situation," he would say, while
others sat around taking dismal
views of everything. It was
amazing how often he found possibilities, too,
and then the gloom
artists would wonder why they hadn't seen them. The
that the possibilitarian was always looking for answers and
never were. You usually find just about what you really look
Norman Vincent Peale
The Joy of Living
roads stretching ahead of you--one is beautiful and well worn with
lush surroundings, and the other looks rocky and difficult.
Someone tells you that they've been down both paths, and the one on
the right will give you a peaceful, easy journey with lots of
beautiful scenery, while the one on the left also offers beautiful
scenery, but the path is so difficult that you often won't notice
it. There's the chance of minor injuries because of all the
obstacles on the path, though it certainly isn't life-threatening
unless you do something really, really stupid. Both paths will
get you to your destination at about the same time.
Which path would you choose?
On the one path, of course, you'll probably relax more and be able to
think of things other than your journey. But of course, you'll
also not have the benefit of any sort of adversity to help you to
learn and to grow as a person. The reality of the situation is
that the path on the left is probably going to be the most beneficial
to you in the long run, for there you'll learn about your own limits
and abilities, and you'll learn to really appreciate the paths like
those on the right when they come up in your life.
How many of us, though, have been taught or conditioned to avoid the
difficult paths because of the potential danger that they
represent? How many of us shy away from conflict because it may
harm us somehow? How often do we choose the easiest path because
we just don't have the confidence in our own abilities to weather the
storms or make our ways over difficult terrain? How many of us
talk ourselves out of taking the riskier trail because we simply don't
trust ourselves to navigate it successfully?
a tremendous amount to be gained through what appears to
be adversity. If we don't allow the crisis, these
challenges to take
place, then we remain fixed in life and never really ripen
We've all known
people who have gone through difficult struggles in their lives and
have become stronger, more compassionate, and more caring
people. We've also seen people who have had to face struggles
and who have become bitter and angry and resentful. Some people
argue that the struggles bring out our true natures, and that the
bitter people would be unhappy even if they had no struggles to
face. While I can't prove that claim one way or another, my
experience tells me that there's something to that. I've known
many people who are bitter and unhappy even if their lives are going
very well. So for some of us, it wouldn't matter at all which
road we decide to take--and the easy one may be best because it will
keep us from spreading our bitterness to others as much.
But for the rest of us, it may be worth considering which road would
be the best for us. I know, for example, that if I'm training in
an athletic event and I want to get better, I'm going to need to push
myself significantly, and the flat easy road will not be the best for
me. If I want to be a better runner, I need the hills and I need
to push myself to the limits of my abilities.
That said, though, I also need the easy days to balance out the
struggles of pushing myself. I need easy runs to allow my body
to rest and recover from the previous day's difficult run. Any
runner who constantly trains and never has rest days or easy days is
simply going to wear her or his body down, lowering performance
because the body never has any recovery time.
Which helps us to see that sometimes that easy road is our best
choice. I've gone through many, many struggles in my life, and
one thing that I take very seriously is my need to not be struggling
all the time. I still take the more difficult road very often,
but I also make sure to take that easy road now and then. The
easy, beautiful roads are one of those gifts of life that we really do
need to take advantage of if we're to remind ourselves of the beauty
and wonder of this world of ours.
The important thing is not to always choose the easy road.
a person to him or herself. On the occasion of every
accident that befalls you, remember to turn to yourself and
what power you have for turning it to use.
It does take
significant levels of self-awareness to know when we're strong enough
to take the difficult roads and to know when we need to take the easy
road. We have to know when it's good to take on a new challenge
and when it's better to rest. It's important to be aware of when
we're at our strongest and when we're weaker.
But it's also important to realize that sometimes life is going to
throw adversity our way without a single care as to whether or not
we're strong enough to handle it.
And when that happens, we have no choice but to face that problem or
issue. What's important to me when that happens is not to try to
avoid it, but to face it and deal with it as soon as possible.
At such times, I always remind myself of the truth that life doesn't
throw at us situations that are too difficult for us to handle--they
may be hard to get through, but we do have the strength to do
so. We have to have faith in ourselves, faith in life, faith in
a higher power, and faith in the fact that we will grow in facing the
challenge if we're to make the experience a positive part of our
For example, when I was laid off of a job because the school had
severe financial problems, I viewed it as a challenge rather than as a
catastrophe. I knew that it wasn't the end of the world and that
I would get by, but I could make the recovery from the incident
miserable or positive by my own attitude towards it. I sent out
applications, I worked on other things, and I stayed productive, but
my wife and I got through it fine, when all is said and done. We
lost the house that we had just bought to foreclosure, but given the
work situation in that town, we wouldn't have been able to stay there
anyway. I ended up getting a job elsewhere, which started a
process of traveling and starting new jobs that led to some unique and
fascinating times for us.
Comfort and prosperity have never enriched
the world as much
as adversity has. Out of pain and problems have come
sweetest songs, and the most gripping stories.
Don't avoid the
difficult things in life. While I wouldn't search them out just
for the sake of searching them out, it's important to keep in mind
that they are precisely the things that can help us to grow and learn
in life, that can bring us important lessons that we really do need to
learn, and that we can't learn otherwise. We're taught far too
much to avoid problems, when it's the facing and overcoming of
problems that are the main way that we grow in life. If we want
to be better and stronger tomorrow than we are today, we can't simply
seek out comfort and avoid adversity--we need to sometimes seek out
adversity and avoid the comfort, for it's the comfort that often puts
us in ruts and keeps us from growing.
Life Fully, the e-zine
exists to try to provide for visitors of the world wide web a
of growth, peace, inspiration, and encouragement. Our
are presented as thoughts of the authors--by no means do
mean to present them as ways that anyone has to live
from them what you will, and disagree with
whatever you disagree
with--just know that they'll be here for you
have told you of those who
put on their spectacles
to eat cherries,
in order that the
look larger and more
tempting. In like
manner I always
the most of any enjoyments,
though I do not cast
away from troubles,
as small a
compass as I can for myself,
never let them annoy others.
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