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And now, I am dying And suddenly realize I forgot to live. I slept and dreamt that life was joy.


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I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy. 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. You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

In my walks, I would fain return to my senses. What business have I in the woods if I am thinking of something out of the woods? Our bodies know they belong, It's our minds that make our lives so homeless. Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others.

Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity. Could we have no agenda when we walk into a room with another person, not know what to say, not make that person wrong or right? Could we see, hear, feel other people as they really are? But true communication can happen only in that open space. Holiness comes wrapped in the ordinary.

There are burning bushes all around you. Every tree is full of angels. Hidden beauty is waiting in every crumb. Every part of our personality that we do not love will become hostile to us. If you have embarked on this journey of self-reflection, you may be at a place that everyone, sooner or later, experiences on the spiritual path.

You have a choice whether to open or close, whether to hold on or let go, whether to harden or soften, whether to hold your seat or strike out. That choice is presented to you again and again and again. I sought my soul, But my soul I could not see. I sought my God, But my God eluded me. I sought my brother, And found all three. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.

Is there anything I can do to make myself Enlightened? As little as you can do to make the sun rise in the morning. Then of what use are the spiritual exercises you prescribe? To make sure you are not asleep when the sun begins to rise. There is nothing you can do to improve your soul. There is nothing you can do to stain your soul. I believe that the only true religion consists of having a good heart. The further I wake into this life, the more I realize that God is everywhere and the extraordinary is waiting quietly beneath the skin of all that is ordinary.

Light is in both the broken bottle and the diamond, and music is in both the flowing violin and the water dripping from the drainage pipe. Yes, God is under the porch as well as on top of the mountain, and joy is in both the front row and the bleachers, if we are willing to be where we are. We can stop struggling with what occurs and see its true face without calling it the enemy. It helps to remember that our spiritual practice is not about accomplishing anything - not about winning or losing - but about ceasing to struggle and relaxing as it is.

That is what we are doing when we sit down to meditate. That attitude spreads into the rest of our lives. Most of us need to be reminded that we are good, that we are lovable, that we belong. Our relationships have the potential to be a sacred refuge, a place of healing and awakening. With each person we meet, we can learn to look behind the mask and see the one who longs to love and be loved. Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in the eyes of the Divine.

If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed. Enlightenment does exist. It is possible to awaken. Unbounded freedom and joy, oneness with the Divine, awakening into a state of timeless grace - these experiences are more common than you know, and not far away.

There is one further truth, however: They don't last. Our realizations and awakenings show us the reality of the world, and they bring transformation, but they pass. We all know that after the honeymoon comes the marriage. After the election comes the hard task of governance. In spiritual life it is the same: After the ecstasy comes the laundry.

When we think that something is going to bring us pleasure, we really don't know what's going to happen. When we think something is going to give us misery, we don't know. Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. We try to do what we think is going to help. But we don't know. We never know if we're going to fall flat or sit up tall.

When there's a big disappointment, we don't know if that's the end of the story. It may be just the beginning of a great adventure. Life is like that.

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We call something bad; we call it good. But really we just don't know. With spiritual maturity Integrated and personal spiritual practice includes our work, our love, our families, and our creativity.


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  • It understands that the personal and the universal are inextricably connected, that the universal truths of spiritual life can come alive only in each particular and personal circumstance. How we live is our spiritual life. As one wise student remarked, 'If you really want to know about a Zen master, talk to their spouse. Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous to be understood Let me keep my distance, always, from those who think they have the answers.

    Let me keep company always with those who say 'Look! Your generosity toward others is key to your positive experiences in the world. Know that there's enough room for everyone to be passionate, creative, and successful. In fact, there's more than room for everyone; there's a need for everyone. Don't think the purpose of meditation is to go deep into consciousness, wrap a blanket around yourself, and say, 'How cozy!

    I'm going to curl up in here by myself; let the world burn. We go deep into meditation so that we can reach out further and further to the world outside. You are not a drop in the ocean, You are the entire ocean in a drop. Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death. If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry.

    He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well. Paradise is thus not so much a place, as liberation into the fullness and bounty of everyday experience. When we make music we don't do it in order to reach a certain point, such as the end of the composition. If that were the purpose of music then obviously the fastest players would be the best.

    Also, when we are dancing we are not aiming to arrive at a particular place on the floor as in a journey. When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point. And exactly the same thing is true in meditation. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment. Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us. One day I asked Kassie [Temple] the question that had been vexing me: "How do you keep doing this hard, heart-wrenching work when you know you'll wake up tomorrow to problems that are as bad or worse than the ones you're dealing with today?

    What if our religion was each other? If our practice was our life? If prayer was our words?

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    What if the Temple was the Earth? If forests were our church? If holy water - the river, lakes and oceans? What if meditation was our relationships? If the Teacher was life? If wisdom was self-knowledge? If love was the center of our being? As often happens on the spiritual journey, we have arrived at the heart of a paradox: each time a door closes, the rest of the world opens up. All we need to do is stop pounding on the door that has just closed, turn around - which puts the door behind us - and welcome the largeness of life that now lies open to our souls.

    The door that closed kept us from entering a room, but what now lies before us is the rest of reality. In the end, these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you learn to let go? You and I appear to be separate. We differ in color, size, and shape Beneath this apparent division, however, hidden deep within each of us is the one Self - eternal, infinite, ever-perfect.

    This is the closely guarded secret of life: that we are all caught up in a divine masquerade, and all we are trying to do is take off our masks to reveal the pure, perfect Self within. Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him you will see yourself. As you treat him you will treat yourself. As you think of him you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself. As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison.

    Let us encourage one another with spiritual friendship, conversations that are uplifting, and remembrance of our sacred purpose in life. Go and love someone exactly as they are and watch how quickly they transform into the greatest, truest version of themselves.

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    When one feels seen and appreciated in their own essence, one is instantly empowered. It has a lot to do with developing patience, not with the check-out person so much, but with your own pain that arises, the rawness and the vulnerability, and sending some kind of warmth and love to that rawness and soreness.

    I think that's how we have to practice. There ain't no answer. There ain't ever going to be an answer. There never was an answer. That's the answer. If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher. We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the one that is waiting for us. Forster -. When is the last time that you had a great conversation, a conversation that wasn't just two intersecting monologues, which is what passes for conversation a lot in this culture?

    That you heard yourself receiving from somebody words that absolutely found places within you that you thought you had lost I've had some of them recently Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings. The beauty of listening is that those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their true selves.

    Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to be friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you. Nouwen -. During my life I have met some of the kindest people who don't consider themselves spiritual at all. Yet their approach to life comes from a deep caring and concern for all human beings. It comes from a basic kindness. That is what spirituality is about. It is about our deep connections. It isn't about what gender we think God is, or whether we even think God exists or what rituals we perform or the creeds we profess.

    It is experiencing and acting from our deep connections. It is often done quietly, with no fanfare. It is a friendliness to all life. My beloved child, break your heart no longer. Each time you judge yourself, you break your heart. You pull away from the love that is the well-spring of your vitality. But now the time has come, your time, to live and to trust the goodness that you are. The distinction And what does mystery ask of us? Only that we be in its presence, that we fully, consciously hand ourselves over. That is all, and that is everything.

    Over the years I have seen the power of taking an unconditional relationship to life …, a willingness to show up for whatever life may offer and meet with it rather than wishing to edit and change the inevitable….

    Affect vs. Effect

    Perhaps the wisdom lies in engaging the life you have been given as fully and courageously as possible and not letting go until you find the unknown blessing that is in everything.. Often in meditative language we speak of letting go of things: let go of thoughts, let go of emotions, let go of pain. Sometimes that is not exactly the right phrase, because letting go suggests that you need to do something. Everything comes and goes by itself. We do not have to do anything to make it come, or make it go, or to let it go. We just have to let it be. Each one of us, I believe, is a gift the earth is giving to itself now, a unique gift.

    If the world is to be healed through human effort, I am convinced it will be by ordinary people, people whose love for this life is even greater than their fear. People who can open to the web of life that called us into being, and who can rest in the vitality of that larger body. A human being is a part of the whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of a prison to us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for only the few people nearest us.

    Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.

    I have never met a person whose greatest need was anything other than real, unconditional love. If you pour a handful of salt into a cup of water, the water becomes undrinkable. But if you pour the salt into a river, people can continue to draw the water to cook, wash, and drink. The river is immense, and it has the capacity to receive, embrace, and transform. When our hearts are small, our understanding and compassion are limited, and we suffer.

    We have a lot of understanding and compassion and can embrace others. We accept others as they are, and then they have a chance to transform. Every morning I awake torn between a desire to save the world and an inclination to savor it. This makes it hard to plan the day. But if we forget to savor the world, what possible reason do we have for saving it? In a way, the savoring must come first. White -. Leave your front door and your back door open. Allow your thoughts to come and go.

    Just don't serve them tea. Our days are happier when we give people a bit of our heart rather than a piece of our mind. Don't meditate to fix yourself, to heal yourself, to improve yourself, to redeem yourself; rather, do it as an act of love, of deep warm friendship to yourself. In this way there is no longer any need for the subtle aggression of self-improvement, for the endless guilt of not doing enough. It offers the possibility of an end to the ceaseless round of trying so hard that wraps so many people's lives in a knot.

    Instead there is now meditation as an act of love. How endlessly delightful and encouraging. Forget about enlightenment. Sit down wherever you are and listen to the wind that is singing in your veins. Feel the love, the longing, and the fear in your bones. Open your heart to who you are, right now, not who you would like to be. Not the saint you're striving to become. But the being right here before you, inside you, around you.

    All of you is holy. You're already more and less than whatever you can know. Breathe out, look in, let go. Sometimes people talk about how we need to do things to connect. We are connected. What we need to do is to become aware of it, to live it, to express it.

    Powell -. Want what you have. Do what you can. Be who you are. You do not have to leave the room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait.


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    • You are in:. Daniel Haieck from San Luis in Argentina writes: I would like to know please under what circumstances we should use wanna and gonna , and what exactly they mean. Roger Woodham replies:. Note that in the interrogative, are is omitted in second person singular and first and second person plural What we gonna do now? Don't know about you two. I'm gonna put my feet up and take a break. We're gonna carry on and try and get there before dark. What's he gonna wear on his wedding day? But he's gonna look real smart. Instead of: What do you want to do now? I wanna go home.

      My mum and dad are waiting for me and they wanna go out. You'll never give up gambling. I'm sure of that. Scores of Britney Spears wannabees raided the shops where she had bought her latest outfit. It is not so much used in the interrogative: Don't go out there tonight. It's really dangerous. My mum'll be worried.

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      Are you going to college when you leave school? Will you quit your job if they re-locate to Manchester? When to use these expressions You don't ever need to use these forms actively yourself, Daniel, as a language learner. Gotta, wanna and gonna in the history of popular music Gotta , wanna and gonna have been used regularly in the titles and lyrics or popular songs since the s or even earlier.