Saturday, February 28, 2015

Martha Postlewaite: Clearing

This lovely poem was among others that was shared today by Rodney Smith at a weekend retreat at Still Meadow. Beautiful. ♥ Molly


Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worthy of rescue.

 - Martha Postlewaite

Friday, February 27, 2015

John O'Donohue: For a New Father

For Brian

For a New Father 
As the shimmer of dawn transforms the night
Into a blush of color futured with delight,
The eyes of your new child awaken in you
A brightness that surprises your life.

Since the first stir of its secret becoming,
The echo of your child has lived inside you,
Strengthening through all its night of forming
Into a sure pulse of fostering music.

How quietly and gently that embryo-echo
Can womb in the bone of a man
And foster across the distance to the mother
A shadow-shelter around this fragile voyage.

Now as you behold your infant, you know
That this child has come from you and to you;
You feel the full force of a father's desire
To protect and shelter.
Perhaps for the first time,
There awakens in you
A sense of your own mortality.
May your heart rest in the grace of the gift
And you sense how you have been called
Inside the dream of this new destiny.
May you be gentle and loving,
Clear and sure.
May you trust in the unseen providence
That has chosen yo all to be a family.
May you stand sure on our ground
And know that every grace you need
Will unfold before you
Like all the mornings of your life.
- John O'Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us:
A Book of Blessings

Thích Nhất Hạnh: Life Bursts With Miracles

Around us, life bursts with miracles--a glass of water, a ray of sunshine, a leaf, a caterpillar, a flower, laughter, raindrops. If you live in awareness, it is easy to see miracles everywhere. Each human being is a multiplicity of miracles. Eyes that see thousands of colors, shapes, and forms; ears that hear a bee flying or a thunderclap; a brain that ponders a speck of dust as easily as the entire cosmos; a heart that beats in rhythm with the heartbeat of all beings. When we are tired and feel discouraged by life's daily struggles, we may not notice these miracles, but they are always there.


Eva Pierrakos: The Gateway

Through the gateway of feeling your weakness
lies your strength.

Through the gateway of feeling your pain
lies your pleasure and joy.

Through the gateway of feeling your fear
lies security and safety.

Through the gateway of feeling your loneliness
lies your capacity
to have fulfillment, love, and companionship.

Through the gateway of feeling your hopelessness
lies true and justified hope.

Through the gateway of accepting the lacks 
of your childhood 
lies your fulfillment now.

~ Eva Pierrakos,
The Pathwork of Self-Transformation

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Carl Jung: A Thousand Disguises

We meet ourselves in a thousand
disguises along the path.

- Carl Jung

John O'Donohue: For a Mother-To-Be

For Marita
 For a Mother-To-Be
Nothing could have prepared 
Your heart to open like this.

From beyond the skies and the stars
This echo arrived inside of you 
And started to pulse with life
Each beat a tiny act of growth,
Traversing all our ancient shapes,
On its way home to itself.

Once it began, you were no longer your own.
A new, more courageous you, offering itself
In a new way to a presence you can sense
But you have not seen or known.

It has made you feel alone
In a way you never knew before;

Everyone else sees only from the outside
What you feel and feed 
With every fiber of your being.

Never have you traveled farther inward
Where words and thoughts become half-light
unable to reach the fund of brightness
Strengthening inside the night of your womb.

Like some primeval moon,
Your soul brightens
The tides of essence
That flow to your child.

You know your life has changed forever,
For in all the days and years to come,
Distance will never be able to cut you off
From the one you now carry
For nine months under your heart.

May you be blessed with quiet confidence
That destiny will guide you and mind you.

May the emerging spirit of your child
Imbibe encouragement and joy
From the continuous music of your heart,
So that it can grow with ease,
Expectant of wonder and welcome 
When its form is fully filled

And it makes it journey out
To see you and settle at last
Relieved and glad in your arms.

- John O'Donohue, To Bless the Space Between Us:
A Book of Blessings

The Limitless Potential For Healing

Another quiet gift we bring is the gift of simply doing no harm: to refrain from judging ourselves and others, not to use sarcasm or anger to advance our cause, not to be hurtful in our speech or our actions. If we simply refrain from causing suffering, then the limitless potential for natural healing can quietly arise unimpeded.
- Wayne Muller

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Robert Thurman: Seeing Through Separation

You can experience yourself as the other beings 
when you see through the delusion of being separated from them. 
When you do that, you’re forced to feel what they feel.

- Robert Thurman

Rumi: All One Light

All religions,
all this singing,
is one song.
The differences are just
illusion and vanity.
The sun's light looks a little different
on this wall than it does on that wall...
but it's all one light.

- Rumi

Ram Dass: The Life Within

The Life Within
In the elderly, two sets of values operate simultaneously: the desire to stay active and to maintain a sense of self-worth in the eyes of others, and the desire to withdraw from social commitments to a more leisurely, contemplative life. Although this inward-turning is viewed by some as antisocial, a problem to be solved or worried about (“I used to be so active, what’s wrong with me?”), it seems to be a natural by-product of aging. This isn’t a paranoid drawing-inward, it isn’t being afraid of the world, but rather a kind of deepening that seems to result from the nearness of death, and the desire to reflect on what life is all about.
It is important to create opportunities for doing that – to build some time into our lives to consider our deepest questions about who we are, where we are, and how it all makes sense. It’s a great feeling to be able to open the door to mystery and reflect on the deeper significance of life. Slowing down is the only way to take advantage of this opportunity.
I receive a lot of letters from spiritual seekers who tell me that they’re lonely on their path, live in small towns and have no one around with whom to share how they’re feeling. They’re looking for fellowship, a community of like-minded Souls with whom to voice their concerns about the deeper issues surrounding aging, the mystery of death, and how to remain conscious in the face of physical, social and psychological challenges. Community is vital to help us reorient ourselves to a spiritual perspective. It helps to have fellow seekers in your life who can help you to stay on-track, and who remind you gently when you seem to have lost your way. Being in the company of people engaged in conscious-aging practice helps strengthen our resolve, and helps us stand firm against the cultural message that conspire against elder wisdom.
It’s important for us to seek out opportunities for connecting with others on this path of wisdom, and when this isn’t possible, to find other ways to cultivate some means of staying connected. Books are an excellent tool for maintaining such support; in the years when I traveled a great deal and couldn’t always be in the company of others on a conscious path, I kept a cache of reliable book-friends with me: the quotes of Lao Tzu, the Dhammapada or the Gita, as a lifeline to wisdom. I have a very dear friend whose grandmother is a Christian Scientist; although a very worldly person, she reads the literature of her faith every day without fail, and has done so for many years. Although her family is worried that this faith might compromise her willingness to accept medical treatment as she gets older, this lady seems quite happy, and uses her spiritual studies to remain grounded in a Soul perspective.
Our relationship with the world at large shifts from “outer” to “inner.” We learn, as our worldly roles fall away, to place emphasis on connections of the heart. We come to recognize and honor our relationships with family, friends, and the greater community. Although we may remain active in our communities, we do not forget that old age is a time for reflection and inner work. Free of the pressure to achieve, and of the masks we’ve worn to operate in society, we focus our attention on remaining mindful of each precious passing day, and on not becoming entangled in the voices of our Ego. Equipped with this wisdom we find ourselves free to live more creatively than ever before. We create our lives from a place of equanimity and peace, from the quiet spaciousness of being awake, and in love, among all living things.
Please go here for the original article:

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Dalai Lama: Our Own Heart, Our Own Mind, Is the Temple

We can reject everything else:
religion, ideology, all received wisdom.
But we cannot escape the necessity of love and compassion.
This, then, is my true religion, my simple faith...
Our own heart, our own mind, is the temple.
The doctrine is compassion.

- Dalai Lama, Ethics for the New Millennium

Dostoyevsky: To Love the Whole World

Love all Creation.
The whole and every grain of sand in it.
Love every leaf,
and every ray of light.
Love the plants.
Love the animals.
Love everything.
If you love everything
you will perceive the Divine Mystery
in all things.
Once you perceive it
you will comprehend it better every day.
And you will come, at last,
to love the whole world
with an all embracing love.

- Dostoyevsky, Brothers Karamazov

Matthew Fox: The Cosmic Christ and the Living Buddha

Just as the Cosmic Christ is understood by Christians to be the light in all beings in the universe (a fact now scientifically spoken of as the photons or light waves in every atom in the universe), so in Buddhism the Living Buddha is always shining, always enlightening trees, grass, birds, human beings, and so on, always emitting light. It is this Buddha who is preaching now and not just 2,500 years ago. In Buddhism, the word for ignorance is avidya and this means literally "the lack of light." Vidya or understanding means "made of light." Because light exists in all things, all things preach of the Buddha (is this not an insight from St. Francis of Assisi also?). Thích Nhất Hạnh says: The trees, the birds, the violet bamboo, and the yellow chrysanthemums are all preaching the Dharma that Shakyamuni (the historical Buddha) preached 2,500 years ago. We can be in touch with him through any of these. He is a living Buddha, always available. All are invited to find the Buddha within. The road to Buddhahood is open to all. At all times all living beings have the Germ of Buddhahood in them. If the element of the Buddha did not exist in everyone, there could be no disgust with suffering, nor could there be a wish for Nirvana.

This teaching about the living Buddha found in the light beings and bringing enlightenment to human beings seems identical to the teaching of the Cosmic Christ, who is present in all beings as light and brings enlightenment to humans. Perhaps we can, borrowing from today's science, distinguish between light as wave and light as particle. As wave, both the Cosmic Christ and the Buddha Nature extend everywhere and permeate all beings. As particles, the historical Buddha and the historical Jesus were particular people from particular cultures operating in a particular time period. Thus the light of the Buddha and the light of the Christ have both wave and particle elements to them. As do we who share in their light.
- Matthew Fox, excerpted from One River, Many Wells:
Wisdom Springing From Global Faiths

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Martin Buber: Mirroring Love

A person wishes to be confirmed in his being by another person... Secretly and bashfully, he watches for a Yes which allows him to be and and which  can come to him only from one human person to another. It is from one human being to another that the heavenly bread of self-being is passed.

- Martin Buber 

Martin Buber: Heightened Awareness of Living

I do not accept any absolute formulas for living. No preconceived code can see ahead to everything that can happen in a man's life. As we live, we grow and our beliefs change. They must change. So I think we should live with this constant discovery. We should be open to this adventure in heightened awareness of living. We should stake our whole existence on our willingness to explore and experience. 

Tara Brach: The Biggest Tragedy

Perhaps the biggest tragedy of our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns...We may want to love other people without holding back, to feel authentic, to breathe in the beauty around us, to dance and sing. Yet each day we listen to inner voices that keep our life small.

Tara Brach: Opening To the Vulnerability of Our Own Hearts

The intimacy that arises in listening and speaking truth is only possible if we can open to the vulnerability of our own hearts. Breathing in, contacting the life that is right here, is our first step. Once we have held ourselves with kindness, we can touch others in a vital and healing way.


David Richo: Fertile Opportunities For Healing, Insight, Growth, and Love

How different my life would have unfolded had this information been first given to me 30 years ago. Forty years ago I would not have been ready. But 30 years ago I was ripe for learning to see with new eyes, face my illusions, and begin the process of lifting the veils of my ignorance, distortions, and fears. There are profound gems hidden in this courageous work of opening our hearts to true healing, intimacy, and connection with our own hearts and those of others. May we all be so blessed.
With loving  and compassionate wishes for your journey ~ Molly

A poignant thing about us humans is that we seem hardwired to replay the past, especially when our past includes emotional pain or disappointment. As a psychotherapist, so much of my work involves joining people in noticing the ways in which the past is still very much alive in present-day relationships. Though most of us want to move on from the past, we tend to go through our lives simply casting new people in the roles of key people, such as our parents or any significant person with whom there is still unfinished business. Freud called this phenomenon "transference."

When we engage in transference, we are attracted, repelled, excited, or upset by others. Our strong reactions of approach or avoidance may give us a clue to something still unsettled, still unfinished in us. Perhaps this person to whom we react so vehemently has reminded us of someone else, by physical resemblance or by personality. Perhaps he has released a feeling not fully expressed, a desire not yet satisfied, an expectation not yet met, a longing still shyly in hiding. It is called "transference' because we carry over onto someone now what belongs to the world back then. Indeed, as we look carefully into any present reactions, we inevitably notice a hookup to the past. "Introspection is always retrospection," wrote Jean-Paul Sartre. As we interpret our transferences in the light of our past, we understand our behavior in relationships.

Transference does not have to be seen as pathology but rather as the psyche's signal system, alerting us to what awaits an updating. Our work is to take notice of this and to face our tasks without the use of unwilling apprentices or surrogates. Unconscious transference is a hitching post to our past. As we make it conscious, it becomes a guidepost.

We engage in transference for some positive reasons. We are seeking healing for what is still an open wound. We are yearning for the sewing up of something that has long remained ripped and ragged. We try to complete our enigmatic history through our relationships with new partners, workmates, or colleagues. In this sense, transference can provide a useful shortcut to working on our past. This is healthy when transference is recognized, brought out of hiding, and used to identify what we then take responsibility to deal with. Finding out where our work is can be as important a purpose of relationship as personal happiness.

Transference is unhealthy for us when we remain unconscious of it and use others as fixit-persons for our troubled past relationships. We evolve when that past can find more direct and conscious ways to complete itself. Then others become prompters that hep us move on in our story rather than actions who keep us caught in it.

Sometimes in our relationships we do step out of our old story with no need of a prompter. We approach someone not because she grants entry into our own unopened past or helps us forget it but because she is truly brand-new and only herself. This is the experience of an authentic you-and-I relationship. We approach a real person, not someone costumed in garments gathered from the trunks in our own attic. We then become more sincerely present with someone just as she is. This leads to the liberating possibility offered in authentic intimacy: mutual need-fulfillment and openness to each other's feelings. Our definition in healthy adulthood widens and deepens from the adolescent version: an attachment that feels good.

Transference issues can be baggage - the Latin word for which is impedimenta - or they can be fertile possibilities for growth. How sad it is that what shaped us became a burden and a secret too. Bringing consciousness to our transferences makes everything lighter to bear. There is no way around the past, but there are ways of working with it so that it does not impinge upon us or others quite so much. Our psyche's unrecognized operations can be exposed. The misreadings that are transference can become meaningful. Then the long longed-for restoration of our full selves can be consummated.

We can expand our repertory for dealing with the past. It begins when we embark on a practice of noticing transference mindfully. We may then peer into the true nature of the unsatisfactory transactions of the past that yearn to fulfill themselves so desperately and futilely now. This form of mindfulness makes the unconscious conscious, the implicit explicit, just the technique that facilitates mental awareness, the psychological version of spiritual enlightenment.... Our work on transference thus commandeers us to a high spiritual consciousness.

Transference smuggles the past onboard the present, and mindfulness escorts us safely to the port of the present, our illicit and burdensome cargo now cast overboard.  Transference is an attachment to a fabrication, an illusion about others and ourselves. Mindfulness is its antidote because it is an accurate revision of others, of life events, and of ourselves as they are in this very moment.

Yet we have to concede that the present cannot help but hold some vestiges of the past. To be present mindfully does not mean living with no history - an impossible, useless, and dangerous task. We are mindful as we acknowledge our past as an inevitable and subtle stowaway in our lives. Then we are in the best position to update our ship's manifest. This take the psychological work of addressing, processing, resolving, and integrating past events that still gnaw at us. It may mean grieving childhood relationships or finishing some emotionally unfinished business with a recent partner. It will certainly entail an attitude of inquiry into ourselves and our story. These tasks can be psychological escorts into spiritual consciousness. Then we can sit mindfully in the present, finally free of ego and the stories that stop or drive us.

No one escapes transference. It is as much a part of a relationship as apples are to apple pie... Tattoos are carefully and consciously chosen and then needled onto the body. Our assumptions about, expectations of, and projections upon relationships, not consciously chosen, are tattooed into the cells of our bodies. The more a new situation resembles the past, the more bodily stress do we feel and the harder it is for us to release it. Yet, we can trust that our psychological work and our spiritual practice will yield physical results. We will feel our bodies relaxing, our breathing calming, and our tattoos fading. Transference, like all painful events, turns out to be an opportunity for healing after all.

- David Richo, excerpts from When the Past Is Present:
Healing the Emotional Wounds That Sabotage Our Relationships