FRAGMENTS OF WISDOM
A small collection of stand-alone thoughts and stories worth contemplating. I update this page with new passages as I come across them and cite the source so you can venture deeper down the rabbit hole.
INSIGHTS FROM GANDHI’S EXPERIMENTS WITH TRUTH
From The Story of My Experiments with Truth by Gandhi.
On our life’s work
“I had learnt the true practice of law. I had learnt to find out the better side of human nature and to enter men’s hearts. I realized that the true function of a lawyer was to unite parties riven asunder.”
“Service can have no meaning unless one takes pleasure in it. When it is done for show or for fear of public opinion, it stunts the man and crushes his spirit. Service which is rendered without joy helps neither the server nor the served. But all other pleasures and possessions pale into nothingness before service which is rendered in the spirit of joy.”
“My experience has shown me that we win justice quickest by rendering justice to the other party.”
“I believe even now, that, no matter what amount of work one has, one should always find some time for exercise, just as one does for one’s meals. It is my humble opinion that, far from taking away from one’s capacity for work, it adds to it.”
“If the present generation has also its barristers like me in Bombay, I would commend them a little practical precept about living. Although I lived in Girgaum I hardly ever took a carriage or a tramcar. I had made it a rule to walk to the High Court. It took me quite forty-five minutes, and of course I invariably returned home on foot. I had inured myself to the heat of the sun. This walk to and from the Court saved a fair amount of money, and when many of my friends in Bombay used to fall ill, I do not remember having once had an illness. Even when I began to earn money, I kept up the practice of walking to and from the office, and I am still reaping the benefits of that practice.”
“Service without humility is selfishness and egotism.”
On matters of the heart
“The heart’s earnest and pure desire is always fulfilled.”
“What barrier is there that love cannot break?”
“Man and his deed are two distinct things. Whereas a good deed should call forth approbation and a wicked deed disapprobation, the doer of the deed, whether good or wicked, always deserves respect or pity as the case may be. ‘Hate the sin and not the sinner’ is a precept which, though easy enough to understand, is rarely practiced, and that is why the poison of hatred spreads in the world.”
“I have always held that it is only when one sees one’s own mistakes with a convex lens, and does just the reverse in the case of others, that one is able to arrive at a just relative estimate of the two.”
“A clean confession, combined with a promise never to commit the sin again, when offered before one who has the right to receive it, is the purest type of repentance.”
“Where a choice has to be made between liberty and learning who will not say that the former has to be preferred a thousand times to the latter?”
“Truth is like a vast tree, which yields more and more fruit, the more you nurture it. The deeper the search in the mine of truth, the richer the discovery of the gems buried, here, in the shape of openings for an ever greater variety of service.”
“Who can say thus far, no further, to the tide of his own nature? Who can erase the impressions with which he is born? It is idle to expect one’s children and wards necessarily to follow the same course of evolution as oneself.”
“I have found by experience that man makes his plans to be often upset by God, but, at the same time where the ultimate goal is the search of truth, no matter how a man’s plans are frustrated, the issue is never injurious and often better than anticipated.”
“My hesitancy in speech, which was once an annoyance, is now a pleasure. Its greatest benefit has been that it has taught me the economy of words. I have naturally formed the habit of restraining my thoughts. And I can now give myself the certificate that a thoughtless word hardly ever escapes my tongue or pen. I do not recollect ever having to regret anything in my speech or writing. I have thus been spared many a mishap and waste of time. Experience has taught me that silence is part of the spiritual discipline of a votary of truth. Proneness to exaggerate, to suppress or modify the truth, wittingly or unwittingly, is a natural weakness of man, and silence is necessary in order to surmount it. A man of few words will rarely be thoughtless in his speech; he will measure every word. We find so many people impatient to talk. There is no chairman of a meeting who is not pestered with notes for permission to speak. And whenever the permission is given the speaker generally exceeds the time limit, asks for more time, an keeps on talking without permission. All this talking can hardly be said to be of any benefit to the world. It is so much waste of time. My shyness has been in reality my shield and buckler. It has allowed me to grow. It has helped me in my discernment of truth.”
“The separation from wife and children, the breaking up of a settled establishment, and the going from the certain to the uncertain,—all this was for a moment painful, but I had inured myself to an uncertain life. I think it is wrong to expect certainties in this world, where all else but God that is Truth is an uncertainty. All that appears and happens about and around us is uncertain, transient But there is a Supreme Being hidden therein as a Certainly, and one would be blessed if one could catch a glimpse of that Certainty and hitch one’s wagon to it. The quest for that Truth is the summon bonus of life.”
“It is quite proper to resist and attack a system, but to resist and attack its author is tantamount to resisting and attacking oneself. For we are all tarred with the same brush, and are children of one and the same Creater, and as such the divine power within us are infinite. To slight a single human being is to slight those divine powers, and thus to harm not only that being but with him the whole world.”
“I hold that believers who have to see the same God in others that they see in themselves, must be able to live amongst all with sufficient detachment. And the ability to live thus can be cultivated, not by fighting shy of unsought opportunities for such contacts, but by hailing them in a spirit of service and withal keeping oneself unaffected by them.”
“Any number of experiments is too small and no sacrifice is to great for attaining this symphony with nature. But unfortunately the current is nowadays flowing strongly in the opposite direction. We are not ashamed to sacrifice a multitude of other lives in decorating the perishable body and trying to prolong its existence for a few fleeting moments, with the result that we that we kill ourselves, both body and soul. In trying to cure one old disease, we give rise to a hundred new ones; in trying to enjoy the pleasures of sense, we lose in the end even our capacity for enjoyment. All this is passing before our very eyes, but there are none so blind as those who will not see.”
“It is true that I did not officially become a member of the Society, but I have ever been a member in spirit. Spiritual relationship is far more precious than physical. Physical relationship divorced from spiritual is body without soul.”
“I poured out my soul in its columns.” (referring to the publication Indian Opinion which he was an editor of)
“I understand more clearly today what I read long ago about the inadequacy of all autobiography as history. I know that I do not set down in this story all that I remember. Who can say how much I must give and how much omit in the interests of truth? And what would be the value in a court of law of the inadequate ex parts evidence being tendered by me of certain events in my life? If some busybody were to cross-examine me on the chapters already written, he could probably shed much more light on them, and if it were a hostile critic’s cross-examination, he might even flatter himself for having shown up ‘the hollowness of many of my pretensions’.
I, therefore, wonder for a moment whether it might not be proper to stop writing these chapters. But so long as there is no prohibition from the voice within, I must continue the writing. I must follow the sage maxim that nothing once begun should be abandoned unless it is proved to be morally wrong.”
“Indeed the journal [Indian Opinion] became for me a training in self-restraint, and for friends a medium through which to keep in touch with my thoughts.”
“For me [the journal] became a means for the study of human nature in all its casts and shades, as I always aimed at establishing an intimate and clean bond between the editor and the readers. I was inundated with letters containing the outpourings of my correspondent’s hearts. They were friendly, critical or bitter, according to the temper of the writer. It was a fine education for me to study, digest and answer all this correspondence. It was as though the community thought audibly through this correspondence with me.”
“In the very first month of Indian Opinion, I realized that the sole aim of journalism should be service.”
“The newspaper press is a great power, but just as an unchained torrent of water submerges whole countrysides and devastates crops, even so an uncontrolled pen serves but to destroy. If the control is from without, it proves more poisonous than want of control. It can be profitable only when exercised from within. If this line of reasoning is correct, how many of the journals in the world would stand the test? But who would stop those that are useless? And who should be the judge? The useful and the useless must, like good and evil generally, go on together, and man must make his choice.”
On living simply
“I kept account of every farthing I spent, and my expenses were carefully calculated. Every little item, such as omnibus fares or postage or a couple of coppers spent on newspapers, would be entered, and the balance struck every evening before going to bed. That habit has stayed with me ever since, and I know that as a result, though I have had to handle public funds amounting to lakhs, I have succeeded in exercising strict economy in their disbursement, and instead of outstanding debts have had invariably a surplus balance in respect of all the movements I have led. Let every youth take a leaf out of my book and make it a point to account for everything that comes into and goes out of his pocket, and like me he is sure to be a gainer in the end.
As I kept strict watch over my way of living, I could see that it was necessary to economize. I therefore decided to reduce my expenses by half. My accounts showed numerous items spent on fares. Again my living with a family meant the payment of a regular weekly bill. It also included the courtesy of occasionally taking members of the family out to dinner, and likewise attending parties with them. All this involved heavy items for conveyances, especially as, if the friend was a lady, custom required that the man should pay all expenses. Also dining out meant extra cost, as no deduction could be made from the regular weekly bill for meals not taken. It seemed to me that all these items could be saved, as likewise the drain on my purse caused through a false sense of propriety.
So I decided to take rooms on my own account, instead of living any longer in a family, and also to remove from place to place according to the work I had to do, thus gaining experience at the same time. The rooms were so selected as to enable me to reach the place of business on foot in half an hour, and so save fares. Before this I had always taken some kind of conveyance whenever I went anywhere , and had to find extra time for walks. The new arrangement combined walks and economy, as it meant a saving of fares and gave me walks of eight to ten miles a day. It was mainly this habit of long walks that kept me practically free from illness throughout my stay in England and gave me a fairly strong body.
Thus I rented a suite of rooms; one for a sitting room and another for a bedroom. This was the second stage. The third was yet to come.
These changes saved me half the expense. But how was I to utilize the time? I knew that Bar examinations did not require much study, and I therefore did not feel pressed for time. My weak English was a perpetual worry for me. Mr (afterwards Dir Frederic) Lely’s words, ‘graduate first and then come to me,’ still rang in my ears. I should, I thought not only be called to the Bar, but have some literary degree as well. I inquired about the Oxford and Cambridge University courses, consulted a few friends, and found that, if I elected to go to either of these places, that would mean greater expense and a much longer stay in England than I was prepared for. A friend suggested that, if I really wanted to have the satisfaction of taking a difficult examination, I should pass the London Matriculation. It meant a good deal of labour and much addition to my stock of general knowledge, without any extra expense worth the name. I welcomed the suggestion. But the syllabus frightened me. Latin and a modern language were compulsory! How was I to manage Latin? But the friend entered a strong plea for it: ‘Latin is very valuable to lawyers. Knowledge of Latin is very useful in understanding law-books. And one paper in Roman Law is entirely in Latin. Besides a knowledge of Latin means greater command over the English language’. It went home and I decided to learn Latin, no matter how difficult it might be. French I had already begun, so I thought that should be the modern language . I joined a private Matriculation class. Examinations were held every six months and I had only five months at my disposal. It was an almost impossible task for me. But the aspirant after being an English gentleman chose to convert himself into a serious student. I framed my own time-table to the minute; but neither my intelligence nor memory promised to enable me to tackle Latin and French besides other subjects within the given period. The result as that I was sloughed in Latin. I was sorry but did not lose heart. I had acquired a taste for Latin, also I thought my French would be all the better for another trial and I would select a new subject in the science group. Chemistry which was my subject in science had no attraction for want of experiments, whereas it ought to have been a deeply interesting study. It was one of the compulsory subjects in India and so I had selected it for the London Matriculation. This time, however I chose Heat and Light instead of Chemistry. It was said to be easy and I found it to be so.
With my preparation for another trial, I made an effort to simplify my life still further. I felt that the way of living did not yet benefit the modest means of my family. The thought of my struggling brother, who nobly responded to my regular calls for monetary help, deeply pained me. I saw that most of those who were spending from eight to fifteen pounds monthly had the advantage of scholarships. I had before me examples of much simpler living. I came across a fair number of poor students living more humbly than I. One of them was staying in the slums in a room at two shillings a week and living on two pence worth of cocoa and bread per meal from Lockhart’s cheap Cocoa Rooms. It was far from me to think of emulating him, but I felt I could surely have one room instead of two and cook some of my meals at home. That would be a saving of four to five pounds each month. I also came across books on simple living. I gave up the suite of rooms and rented on instead, invested in a stove, and began cooking my breakfast at home. The process scarcely took me more than twenty minutes, for there was only oatmeal porridge to cook and water to boil for cocoa. I had lunch out and for dinner bread and cocoa at home. Thus I managed to live on a shilling and three pence a day. This was also a period of intensive study. Plain living saved me plenty of time and I passed my examination.
Let not the reader think that this living made my life by any means a dreary affair. On the contrary the change harmonized my inward and outward life. It was also more in keeping with the means of my family. My life was certainly more truthful and my soul knew no bounds of joy.”
UPROOTING THE BAOBOBS
From The Little Prince by Antoine deSaint-Exupéry
Indeed, as I learned, there were on the planet where the little prince lived—as on all planets—good plants and bad plants. In consequence, there were good seeds from good plants, and bad seeds from bad plants. But seeds are invisible. They sleep deep in the heart of the earth’s darkness, until some one among them is seized with the desire to awaken. Then this little seed will stretch itself and begin—timidly at first—to push a charming little sprig inoffensively upward toward the sun. If it is only a sprout of radish or the sprig of a rose-bush, one would let it grow wherever it might wish. But when it is a bad plant, one must destroy it as soon as possible, the very first instant that one recognizes it.
Now there were some terrible seeds on the planet that was the home of the little prince; and these were the seeds of the baobab. The soil of that planet was infested with them. A baobob is something you will never, never be able to get rid of if you attend to it too late. It spreads over the entire planet. It bores clear through it with its roots. And if the planet is too small, and the baobabs are too many, they split it in pieces…
“It is a question of discipline,” the little prince said to me later on. “When you’ve finished your own toilet in the morning, then it is time to attend to the toilet of your planet, just so, with the greatest care. You must see to it that you pull up regularly all the baobobs, at the very first moment when they can be distinguished from the rosebushes which they resemble so closely in their earliest youth. It is very tedious work,” the little prince added, “but very easy.”
FINDING OUR TRUE MISSION
From The Zahir by Paulo Coelho.
I believe in signs. After I had walked the road to Santiago, everything had changed completely: what we need to learn is always there before us, we just have to look around us with respect and attention in order to discover where God is leading us and which step we should take next. I also learned a respect for mystery: as Einstein said, God does not play dice with the Universe; everything is interconnected and has meaning. That meaning may remain hidden nearly all the time, but we always know we are close to our true mission on earth when what we are doing is touched with the energy of enthusiasm.
If it is, then all is well. If not, then we had better change direction.
THE NAIL IN WALT DISNEY’S BOOT
From The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do by Jeff Goins.
Walt Disney did his best to not ask his parents for much. Elias and Flora Disney raised a frugal family in the Midwest, first as failed farmers and later as struggling business owners. But when he spotted a pair of leather boots with metal toes, young Walt had to have them. They were a practical gift, he reasoned, and would help with his job of delivering newspapers —especially when it snowed.
In a rare instance of indulgence, his parents caved. That year at Christmas, lying beneath the tree, was a pair of leather boots waiting for Walt. He wore them every day and could often be seen tramping around downtown Kansas City in them, as any proud kid with a new prized possession would do. He also kept his promise, wearing them morning and night to deliver the paper.
One spring day, just after finishing his route, Walt crossed the street to join some friends at the local soda fountain. As he did, he noticed a piece of ice lying in the middle of the street and couldn’t resist the temptation to kick it. As Walt’s foot collided with the block of ice, something sharp struck his boot, and a surge of pain raced up the boy’s leg. Looking down to see a horseshoe nail sticking out of his boot, he screamed. The nail had penetrated the leather exterior and drove straight into his big toe, freezing his foot fast to the block of ice.
For twenty minutes, Walt cried for help —he screamed— but no one came. Finally, a wagon driver stopped and came to his aid, chipping away at the ice and taking him to the doctor. After removing the nail with a pair of pliers and administering a tetanus shot, the doctor sent Walt home without any painkillers. He would be bedridden for two weeks.
During the days that ensued, young Walt Disney had a lot to consider, including what he might do with the rest of his life. At sixteen years old, a boy growing up in the early twentieth century didn’t have much time left to become a man. College was out of the question, given the Disney’s lack of means. He would not be a lawyer or a doctor. Even if his parents did have money, Walt’s poor grades and inability to concentrate in school would have done him in. His prospects were limited. Would he follow in his father’s footsteps or forge his own path as his elder brother Roy had done?
The break from his regular routine allowed Walt to imagine the possibilities. During those two weeks, he must have thought about many things. Perhaps he thought about his friendship with schoolmate Walter Pfeiffer, whose family had introduced him to the magic of theater. Maybe he thought about how he loved drawing and amusing classmates with cartoons. He may have thought of the time he and his sister, Ruth, were left home alone to discover a barrel of tar outside. Walt said it would make for excellent paint, but his sister protested. After he assured her it would come off, the two proceeded to decorate the side of the house with pictures of houses and black zigzags. It never came off.
We don’t know what Walt was thinking during those two weeks in bed. But what we do know, according to biographer Bob Thomas, is that by the time his foot healed and he returned to delivering papers, “he had decided to become a cartoonist.”
What was once a diversion was now a destiny. He needed something to disrupt his comfort, something painful to make him realize what was important. It wasn’t that the nail was good; it was just the means that forced him to listen. And as painful as it was, it worked.
THE GAME OF BLACK AND WHITE
From The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are by Alan W. Watts.
There must then be numberless features and dimensions of the world to which our senses respond without our conscious attention, let alone vibrations (such as cosmic rays) having wavelengths to which our senses are not tuned at all. To perceive all vibrations at once would be pandemonium, as when someone slams down all the keys of a piano at the same time. But there are two ignored factors which can very well come into our awareness, and our ignorance of them is the mainstay of the ego-illusion and of the failure to know that we are each the one Self in disguise.
The first is not realizing that so-called opposites, such as light and darkness, sound and silence, solid and space, on and off, inside and outside, appearing and disappearing, cause and effect, are poles or aspects of the same thing. But we have no word for that thing, save such vague concepts as Existence, Being, God, or the Ultimate Ground of Being. For the most part these remain nebulous ideas without becoming vivid feelings or experience.
The second, closely related, is that we are so absorbed in conscious attention, so convinced that this narrowed kind of perception is not only the real way of seeing the world, but also the very basic sensation of oneself as a conscious being, that we are fully hypnotized by its disjointed vision of the universe. We really feel that this world is indeed an assemblage of separate things that have somehow come together or, perhaps, fallen apart, and that we are each only one of them. We see them all alone —born born alone, dying alone— maybe as bits and fragments of a universal whole, or expendable parts of a big machine. Rarely do we see all so-called things and events “going together,” like the head and tail of the cat, or as the tones and inflections —rising and falling, coming and going— of a single singing voice.
In other words, we do not play the Game of Black-and-White —the universal game of up/down, on/off, solid/space, and each/all. Instead, we play the game of Black-versus-White or, more usually, White-versus-Black. For, especially when rates of vibration are slow as with day and night or life and death, we are forced to be aware of the black or negative aspect of the world. Then, not realizing the inseparability of the positive and negative poles of the rhythm, we are afraid that Black may win the game. But the game, “white must win” is no longer a game. It is a fight —a fight haunted by a sense of chronic frustration, because we are doing something as crazy as trying to keep the mountains and get rid of the valleys.
From The Writing Life by Annie Dillard
Few sights are so absurd as that of an inchworm leading its dimwit life. Inchworms are the caterpillar larvae of several moths or butterflies. The cabbage looper, for example, is an inchworm. I often see an inchworm: it is a skinny bright green thing, pale and thin as a vein, an inch long, and apparently totally unfit for life in this world. It wears out its days in constant panic.
Every inchworm I have seen was stuck in long grasses. The wretched inchworm hangs from the side of a grassblade and throws its head around from side to side, seeming to wail. What! No further? Its back pair of nubby feet clasps the grass stem; its front three pairs of nubs rear back and flail in the air, apparently in search of a footing. What! No further? What? It searches everywhere in the wide world for the rest of the grass, which is right under its nose. By dumb luck it touches the grass. Its front legs hang on; it lifts and buckles its green inch, and places its hind legs just behind its front legs. Its body makes a loop, a bight. All it has to do now is slide its front legs up the grass stem. Instead it gets lost. It throws up its head and front legs, flings its upper body out into the void, and panics again. What! No further? End of world? And so forth, until it actually reaches the grasshead’s tip. By then its wee weight may be bending the grass toward some other grass plant. Its davening, apocalyptic prayers sway the grasshead and bump it into something. I have seen it many times. The blind and frantic numbskull makes it off one grassblade and onto another one, which it will climb in virtual hysteria for several hours. Every step brings it to the universe’s rim. And now—What! No further? End of world? Ah, here’s ground. What! No further? Yike!
‘Why don’t you just jump?’ I tell it, disgusted. ‘Put yourself out of your misery.’
From Metaphors We Live By by George Lakoff & Mark Johnson
The capacity for self-understanding presupposes the capacity for mutual understanding. Common sense tells us that it’s easier to understand ourselves than to understand other people. After all, we tend to think that we have direct access to our own feelings and ideas and not to anybody else’s. Self-understanding seems prior to mutual understanding, and in some ways it is. But any really deep understanding of why we do what we do, feel what we feel, change as we change, and even believe what we believe, takes us beyond ourselves. Understanding of ourselves is not unlike other forms of understanding —it comes out of our constant interactions with our physical, cultural, and interpersonal environment. At a minimum, the skills required for mutual understanding are necessary even to approach self-understanding. Just as in mutual understanding we constantly search out commonalities of experience when we speak with other people, so in self-understanding we are always searching for what unifies our own diverse experiences in order to give coherence to our lives. Just as we seek out metaphors to highlight and make coherent what we have in common with someone else, so we seek out personal metaphors to highlight and make coherent our own pasts, our present activities, and our dreams, hopes, and goals as well. A large part of self-understanding is the search for appropriate personal metaphors that make sense of our lives. Self-understanding requires unending negotiation and renegotiation of the meaning of your experiences to yourself. In therapy for example, much of self-understanding involves consciously recognizing previously unconscious metaphors and how we live by them. It involves the constant construction of new coherences in your life, coherences that give new meaning to old experiences. The process of self-understanding is the continual development of new life stories for yourself.
THE TWO RINGS
From The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation: As Taught by S. N. Goenka by William Hart
A rich old man died leaving two sons. For some time the two continued living together in the traditional Indian way, in a single joint household, a joint family. Then they quarreled and decided to separate. dividing all the property between them. Everything was divided fifty-fifty, and thus they settled their affairs. But after the settlement had been made, a small packet was discovered which had been carefully hidden by their father. They opened the packet and found two rings inside, one set with a valuable diamond, and the other an ordinary silver ring worth only a few rupees.
Seeing the diamond, the elder brother developed greed in his mind, and he started explaining to the younger one, “To me it appears that this ring is not the earning of our father, but rather an heirloom from his forefathers. That is why he kept it separate from his other possessions. And since it has been kept for generations in our family, it should remain for future generations. Therefore I, being elder, shall keep it. You had better take the silver ring.”
The younger brother smiled and said, “All right, be happy with the diamond ring. I’ll be happy with the silver one.” Both of them placed their rings on their fingers and went their ways.
The younger brother thought to himself. “It is easily understandable that my father kept the diamond ring, it is so valuable. But why did he keep this ordinary silver ring?” He examined the ring closely and found some words engraved on it: “This will also change.” “Oh, this is the mantra of my father: ‘This will also change!'” He replaced the ring on his finger.
Both brothers faced all the ups and downs of life. When spring came, the elder brother became highly elated, losing the balance of his mind. When autumn or winter came, he fell into deep depression, again losing his mental balance. He became tense, developing hypertension. Unable to sleep at night, he started using sleeping pills, tranquilizers, stronger drugs. Finally, he reached the stage where he required electric shock treatments. This was the brother with the diamond ring.
As for the younger brother with the silver ring, when spring came, he enjoyed it; he didn’t try to run away from it. He enjoyed it but looked at his ring and remembered. “This will also change.” And when it changed, he could smile and say, “Well, I knew it was going to change. It has changed, so what!” When autumn or winter came, again he looked at his ring and remembered, “This will also change.” He didn’t start crying, knowing that this would also change. And yes, it also changed, it passed away. Of all the ups and downs, all the vicissitudes of life, he knew that nothing is eternal, that everything comes just to pass away. He did not lose the balance of his mind and he lived a peaceful, happy life.
This was the brother with the silver ring.
TWO KINDS OF INTELLIGENCE
From The Essential Rumi by Jalal al-Din Rumi and translated by Coleman Barks
There are two kinds of intelligence: one acquired,
as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts
from books and from what the teacher says,
collecting information from the traditional sciences
as well as from the new sciences.
With such intelligence you rise in the world.
You get ranked ahead or behind others
in regard to your competence in retaining
information. You stroll with this intelligence
in and out of fields of knowledge, getting always more
marks on your preserving tablets.
There is another kind of tablet, one
already completed and preserved inside you.
A spring overflowing its springbox. A freshness
in the center of the chest. This other intelligence
does not turn yellow or stagnate. It’s fluid,
and it doesn’t move from outside to inside
through conduits of plumbing-learning.
This second knowing is a fountainhead
from within you, moving out.
From The Essential Rumi by Jalal al-Din Rumi and translated by Coleman Barks
Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you are bravely working.
Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.
Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralysed.
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated