Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.  As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.  Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their stories.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit.  If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.  If you enter a new relation in a spirit of trust, you make it easy for others to trust you.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, but you need never surrender the playful abandon of your youth, nor close your mind to what is truly new.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But culture an expectation of warm connections and serendipitous good will. Remind yourself that most fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; surely you deserve sympathy and forgiveness as well as those you love best.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Her to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world, and you may laugh in good conscience.

— Desiderata by Max Ehrmann, edited JJM.

From flickr.com: waterfall {MID-219671}

 

In 1927 American writer Max Ehrmann (1872–1945) wrote the prose poem Desiderata, which was first published in The Poems of Max Ehrmann in 1948.  In 1956, the Reverend Frederick Kates, rector of Saint Paul’s Church in Baltimore, Maryland, included Desiderata in a compilation of devotional materials for his congregation. The compilation included the church’s foundation date: “Old Saint Paul’s Church, Baltimore AD 1692″. Consequently, the date of the text’s authorship was (and still is) widely mistaken as 1692, the year of the church’s foundation.

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If Aaron Copland were Russian

Aaron Copland wrote archetypically American music with depth, originality and an immediate popular appeal.  Dmitri Kabalevsky did the equivalent for Russia.  Listen to the First Cello Concerto once.  It’s fun and easy to love.  Listen to the Second Cello Concerto twice.  It requires more concentration and rewards your attention amply.

Дмитрий Кабалевский composed for theater and for movies.  He wrote piano pieces for children and music to laugh with and music to cry over.  Today is his birthday. 47c5b58d-img-03

 

Lest the answers eclipse the questions…

When you penetrate a mystery, it doesn’t become less mysterious.


The way of the Buddha is a living response to a living question. Yet whenever it has become institutionalized, its vital response has become a well formulated answer. The seemingly important task of preserving a particular set of answers often causes the very questions which gave rise to the answers to be forgotten. Then the lucid answers Buddhism provides are cut off from the stammering voice that asks the questions.


Just as Christianity has struggled to account for how an essentially good and loving God could create a world with so much suffering, injustice and horror, so buddhism has struggled to account for the presence of joy, delight and enchantment in a world that is supposedly nothing but a veil of tears.

Lawn Chair Balloonist


An individual dies when he ceases to be surprised. I am surprised every morning that I see the sunshine again. When I see an act of evil, I’m not accommodated. I don’t accommodate myself to the violence that goes on everywhere; I’m still surprised. That’s why I’m against it, why I can hope against it. We must learn how to be surprised. Not to adjust ourselves. I am the most maladjusted person in society.
— Abraham Joshua Heschel


Secular Buddhism is something to do, not something to believe in.  It’s creating the conditions whereby we can embark on a way of life that is not dictated by our instinctive reactivity, our habits, our fears, and so forth and so on, but stems from an openness, an inner openness, that is unconditioned by those forces, and that allows the freedom to think differently, to act differently, to respond more fully. And in doing so, to allow the human person to flourish. To realize more fully the potentials that each one of us has.


All the above is from an interview with Stephen Batchelor by Krista Tippett


 

The source of philosophy is wonder.
— Socrates

Harmony with nature

For, the Man–
Who, in this spirit, communes with the Forms
Of nature, who with understanding heart
Both knows and loves such objects as excite
No morbid passions, no disquietude,
No vengeance, and no hatred–needs must feel
The joy of that pure principle of love
So deeply, that, unsatisfied with aught
Less pure and exquisite, he cannot choose
But seek for objects of a kindred love
In fellow-natures and a kindred joy.
Accordingly he by degrees perceives
His feelings of aversion softened down;
A holy tenderness pervade his frame.
His sanity of reason not impaired,
Say rather, all his thoughts now flowing clear,
From a clear fountain flowing, he looks round
And seeks for good; and finds the good he seeks:
Until abhorrence and contempt are things
He only knows by name; and, if he hear,
From other mouths, the language which they speak,
He is compassionate; and has no thought,
No feeling, which can overcome his love.

— Wordsworth (Excursion Bk 4)

Hope

Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency. Hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth’s treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal… To hope is to give yourself to the future — and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.

— Rebecca Solnit

Three Views of Truth

If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite, for man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern.

— William Blake

Speak the truth, and all things alive or brute are vouchers, and the very roots of the grass underground there, do seem to stir and move to bear you witness.

— R.W. Emerson

I gave up writing — there is already too much truth in the world — an over-production which apparently cannot be consumed!
— Otto Rank