11 September 2018
moment one gives
even a blade of grass,
it becomes a mysterious,
magnificent world in
Every person takes the limits of his
or her own
field of vision for the limits of the world.
When they tell you to grow up,
they mean stop
Gratitude, and the Sacred Experience
Jean Shinoda Bolen
move through my day-to-day life with a sense of
appreciation and gratitude that comes from knowing how
fortunate I truly am and how unearned all that I am
thankful for really is. To have this perspective in
my everyday consciousness is in itself a gift, for it
leads to feeling "graced," or blessed, each
time. For example, my workday commute takes me
through a tunnel toward the Golden Gate Bridge.
Sometimes I emerge to see a panoramic view of bay and
bridges and city, or perhaps I see only the tops of the
bridge towers emerging through the thick fog. I am
struck by how beautiful each sight is. Every time I
see beauty around me I appreciate what I am seeing, and
simultaneously I have this sense of appreciation--for
being alive to have this particular moment.
children evoke a much deeper sense of gratitude.
Feelings mixed with simultaneous appreciation well up in
me toward them. There is a sensation in the middle
of my chest, and the words that I stopped saying out loud,
"You warm the cockles of my heart," come to
mind. I have never taken my children for granted or
have been unaware that things could have been
different. That they were preceded by three
miscarriages is only part of it. The miracle of new
life that I felt when they were born left an indelible
mark on my psyche. I remember being awed, recalling
the perfection of a little hand with nails perfectly
formed in miniature and the stillpoint numinous
experiences of nursing or holding them during the middle
of the night.
my work, when I am able to make a difference to someone,
catch a glimpse of a person's soul, or hear a dream and
sense how profound the human psyche is, I feel privileged
to be in this moment. And when I narrowly escape
being in an accident or have some sense of a close call, I
literally and physically appreciate being alive and
unharmed in this moment. When I feel this
gratitude-for-being, it is like singing a thank-you and
hearing a response in which divinity is present.
San Francisco suffered an earthquake in which most were
spared and the potential for devastation averted, it
seemed as if our entire community responded from the heart
with thankfulness and helpfulness. People commented
on how wonderful this was, how what really matters became
clear, and why did we have to have a disaster for us to
realize this? For a time, what we had, compared to
what could have been taken away, was in our consciousness,
and we felt gratitude.
I was growing up, I became very much aware that bad things
happen to people; medical school, internship, and
residency further brought this home to me, case by
case. My work as a psychiatrist has added to this
awareness. I do not know that there is an answer to
the question, "why them and not me?" As a
consequence, however, of witnessing the suffering and
abuse that has happened to others, when bed things happen
to me I do know that this, too, is part of my life:
my turn to experience pain and loss, which is partly
redeemed by my conviction that no experience goes to
waste. As a therapist and teacher, through my
writing or analytic work, whatever happens to me will help
me someday to better understand and help someone.
the years I have come to believe that life is full of
unchosen circumstances, that being human has to do with
the evolution of our individual consciousness and with it,
responsibilities for choice. Pain and joy both come
with life. I believe that how we respond to what
happens to us and around us shapes who we become and has
to do with the psyche or the soul's growth. Now that
I am in my fifth decade, I can look back and say that the
hardest and darkest times in my life led me deeper and
farther along my spiritual path. At the same time I
am not at all sure that, at least in this life, such is
the case for everyone, especially the very young who are
abused or who arrive in this world innately handicapped.
has not been the difficult times, however, that most
shaped my spiritual life, but the times that were
"sacramental"--situations that were imbued with
grace, sacred moments in which I felt the presence of God
or Goddess or felt connected to the universe or Tao.
Or those times I was in nature or at a sacred site, and
felt myself enter a sacred place, or have a sacred
meeting, a soul-to-soul communion with another
person. These are the experiences that have really
mattered, the ones that changed me--the spiritual
experiences that led me to what I am doing with my
life. I directly felt the presence of divinity, and
knew it. Each experience was subjectively and
intensely real, more so than ordinary reality.
people behind the words
and excerpts - Daily
Two - Year Three
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There is a wood separated by a single open field from my house.
In it, halfway down a little hillside, there was some years ago a spring.
It was at one time walled up with rather large loose stone — some three feet across at the top.
In following a vaguely defined trail through the wood one day in the early spring, a trail at one time evidently considerably used, it led me to this spot.
I looked at the stone enclosure, partly moss-grown.
I wondered why, although the ground was wet around it, there was no water in or running from what had evidently been at one time a well-used spring.
A few days later when the early summer work was better under way, I took an implement or two over, and half scratching, half digging inside the little wall, I found layer after layer of dead leaves and sediment, dead leaves and sediment.
Presently water became evident, and a little later it began to rise within the wall. In a short time there was nearly three feet of water.
It was cloudy, no bottom could be seen. I sat down and waited for it to settle.
Presently I discerned a ledge bottom and the side against the hill was also ledge.
On this side, close to the bottom, I caught that peculiar movement of little particles of silvery sand, and looking more closely I could see a cleft in the rock where the water came gushing and bubbling in.
Soon the entire spring became clear as crystal, and the water finding evidently its old outlet, made its way down the little hillside.
I was soon able to trace and to uncover its course as it made its way to the level place
As the summer went on I found myself going to the spot again and again.
Flowers that I found in no other part of the wood, before the autumn came were blooming along the little watercourse.
Birds in abundance came to drink and to bathe. Several times I have found the half-tame deer there.
Twice we were but thirty to forty paces apart.
They have watched my approach, and as I stopped, have gone on with their drinking, evidently unafraid — as if it were likewise their possession.
And so it is.
After spending a most valuable hour or two in the quiet there one afternoon, I could not help but wonder as I walked home whether perchance the spring may not be actually happy in being able to resume its life, to fulfill, so to speak, its destiny; happy also in the service it renders flowers and the living wild things — happy in the service it renders even me.
I am doubly happy and a hundred times repaid in the little help I gave it.
It needed help, to enable it effectively to keep connection with its source.
As it became gradually shut off from this, it weakened, became then stagnant, and finally it ceased its active life.
Containing a fundamental truth deeper perhaps than we realize, are these words of that gifted seer, Emanuel
Swedenborg: "There is only one Fountain of Life, and the life of man is a stream therefrom, which if it were not continually replenished from its source would instantly cease to flow."
And likewise these: "Those who think in the light of interior reason can see that all things are connected by intermediate links with the First Cause, and that whatever is not maintained in that connection must cease to exist."
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are presented as thoughts of the authors--by no means do
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The important thing to
remember is that peace comes
from within your own heart and mind, not
some outside source, and when you refuse
to be disturbed by
things about you,
life will flood your being with dynamic energy.
It's sometimes difficult to be around other human beings.
Sometimes, people seem so caught up in themselves and their own
lives that they don't show any consideration at all for
others. When my wife and I were camping this past weekend,
we were woken up at 11 p.m. by someone who had come into the
campground late and started chopping wood. At 11 p.m., when
there were hundreds of people sleeping all around him, he was
chopping wood. Yesterday I tried to cross a fairly busy
street at a crosswalk--four cars went by before someone stopped to
let me go, even though the law is very clear that when someone is
in a crosswalk, you're definitely supposed to stop.
I've become convinced that one of the most important elements in
my life is the consideration that I show for others. The
night before our wood-chopping neighbor showed up, my wife and I
arrived very late at the very same campground. We did
everything we could to keep the noise down, keep our voices down,
and not wake anyone up, for we knew that people were
sleeping. We weren't being quiet because we were scared that
people would get mad at us; rather, we were being quiet because we
know how important sleep is to people, and we simply didn't want
to disturb other people's sleep. We weren't trying to be
considerate so that other people would compliment us or think
better of us; we were being quiet because it was the right thing
considerate of others will take your children
further in life than any college degree.
Marian Wright Edelman
seems to have moved in a direction in which
self-gratification is the most important element of
a person's life. I need to chop wood right
now, and I'm not even going to consider the right of
the people around me to get their sleep. I'm
in a hurry right now, so I don't have to obey the
law and let someone cross the street in a
crosswalk. I want to hear my music as loud as
possible, and I don't have to think about the people
next door who are trying to enjoy a peaceful
afternoon or evening.
I believe that a large part of this phenomenon has
to do with the fact that so many young people have
grown up interacting with screens, and not with
people. As they grow up, the screens get
smaller and smaller, but they also take up more and
more of their time. I teach at a college, and
I'm astonished sometimes at the number of young
people who simply don't make eye contact with anyone
else as they walk around campus. The lack of
eye contact of course doesn't mean that these are
inconsiderate people, but there definitely seems to
be a disconnect between them and other people--and
if they don't have or make contact with other
people, it will be difficult for them to understand
the needs and desires of others. Young people
who have grown up spending more time in front of
screens instead of with other people simply aren't
going to understand the needs of other people enough
to be considerate of those needs when they make
decisions on what to do in their own lives.
And if I don't know how my actions affect others,
how can I decide whether or not I really should do a
big people are, above everything else,
courteous, considerate, and generous--not just
to some people in some circumstances--but to
everyone all the time.
Thomas J. Watson
And of course,
I haven't said a word yet about the cell phone, and
the amazing lack of consideration for others that people
show when they're having supposedly personal
conversations. I've had to change tables in
restaurants because of people doing business very
loudly in the booth next to mine or talking very
loudly to their spouse or child or grandchild or
Somehow, many people have come to think that being
on the phone justifies all sorts of rude
behavior. With someone doing business in a
restaurant, I want to go up to them and say,
"Look, I came here for a peaceful meal, and
listening to your stressful conversation about your
work problems is ruining that possibility.
I'll tell you what--if you don't do business here in
the restaurant, I won't come into your office and
eat my breakfast."
Of course, I don't do so, for then I would be the
rude one for interrupting their call, wouldn't I?
There are very, very few absolutely necessary calls
made on cell phones. Somehow, though, we
categorize any incoming call as "urgent,"
and we just have to take it, no matter where we are,
and no matter whom we're with. I know
personally, though, when someone interrupts a
conversation with me in order to take a call, it
makes me feel completely unimportant, for I know
that the person I'm with finds something else to be
much more important than our conversation. And
I don't say that to be overly sensitive (I'm not)
but to be realistic, as someone who honors his own
habit of being uniformly considerate toward others
will bring increased happiness to you.
young people a great disservice when we don't teach
them the importance of being considerate of others,
and we're doing ourselves a great disservice when we
don't practice consideration for others. When
we're inconsiderate, we're treating our fellow human
beings with a lack of respect, with a lack of common
courtesy. There's a very good chance that
we're making them feel stressed or negative or down,
and that's never a good thing to do to another
person. We always should have other people's
feelings in mind, for we truly do appreciate it when
others respect our feelings.
And how can we be living our lives fully if we're
treating others with less than their due of respect
and courtesy? If we want to get the most out
of our lives, then we have to help others to get the
most out of theirs, and not bring them down with a
lack of consideration.
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patience is an opportunity to let go and let God, and to transmute
negative emotions into positive virtues. With patience, you
and centered; you have energy and attention that you can readily
on; and you can proceed with the assurance that things are in
place, even though you may not necessarily like them.
Patience is absolutely
essential if you wish to keep treading the spiritual path.
Art of Living Each Day
Wilferd A. Peterson
day is a lifetime in miniature.
To awaken each morning is
to be born again,
to fall asleep at night is to die to
In between waking and sleeping are the golden
hours of the day.
What we cannot do for a lifetime we can
do for a daytime.
"Anyone," wrote Robert Louis Stevenson, "can
patiently, lovingly, purely, till the sun
Anyone can hold his temper for a day and
guard the words he speaks.
Anyone can carry his burden
heroically for one day.
Anyone can strive to be happy for
a day and
to spread happiness around.
Anyone can radiate
love for a day.
Anyone can rise above fear for a day and
meet each new situation with courage.
Anyone can be kind
and thoughtful and considerate for a day.
endeavor to learn something new
each day and mark some
William Osler pointed out that just as ships are
kept afloat by airtight
compartments, living in daytight
compartments will help us to avoid
wrecking our lives. Osler gives us a magic word with which to face
the day: Equanimity.
The supreme art of living is to strive to live each day
we fail and fall short, let us forgive ourselves and
consider the words of
Emerson: "Finish every day and
be done with it. You have
done what you could; some
blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget
as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you will
well and serenely and with too high a spirit
to be cumbered by your old
Live a day at a time and remember that
tomorrow is another today.
strong passion for any object will ensure success,
for the desire of the end will point out the means.