Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

“Is it not enough, this blessed sip of life?”

February 19, 2019

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How many wonderful moments must you experience before you declare your life wonderful? Ten thousand? A dozen? One? And how many of those must you be able to remember? The same number? Fewer? None? Does it matter whether you can recall it, that wonderful moment? Or just that it happened?

Teach us to sit still and not sit still

February 11, 2019

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If you seek, how is that different from pursuing sound and form?
If you don’t seek, how are you different from earth, wood or stone?
You must seek without seeking.
~Wu-Men

“The truth is just like this.”

January 20, 2019

“He remembered waking once on such a night to the clatter of crabs in the pan where he’d left steakbones from the night before. Faint deep coals of driftwood fire pulsing in the onshore wind. Lying under such a myriad of stars. The sea’s black horizon. He rose and walked out and stood barefoot in the sand and watched the pale surf appear all down the shore and roll and crash and darken again. When he went back to the fire he knelt and smoothed her hair as she slept and he said if he were God he would have made the world just so and no different.”

~Cormac McCarthy, from The Road

Here Today

October 5, 2017

Thus shall ye think of all this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.

~Buddha

Do it anyway

September 23, 2017

Man looks in the abyss. There’s nothing staring back at him. At that moment, man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss.

~from Wall Street

Zen Love

September 18, 2017

One evening, after a Dharma talk at the Cambridge Zen Center, a student asked Seung Sahn Soen-sa, “What is love?”

Soen-sa said, “I ask you: what is love?”

The student was silent.

Soen-sa said, “This is love.”

The student was still silent.

“Soen-sa said, “You ask me, I ask you. This is love.”

“If you awaken from this illusion…”

August 8, 2016

“So in this idea, then, everybody is fundamentally the ultimate reality,
the deep down basic whatever there is—and you are all that.
Only you’re pretending you’re not.”
~Alan Watts

And if thou gaze long into a blank canvas…

November 8, 2015

“If one wants to be active, one mustn’t be afraid to do something wrong sometimes, not afraid to lapse into some mistakes.  To be good – many people think that they’ll achieve it by doing no harm – and that’s a lie….  That leads to stagnation, to mediocrity.  Just slap something on it when you see a blank canvas staring at you with a sort of imbecility.

You don’t know how paralyzing it is, that stare from a blank canvas that says to the painter you can’t do anything.  The canvas has an idiotic stare, and mesmerizes some painters so that they turn into idiots themselves.

Many painters are afraid of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the truly passionate painter who dares – and who has once broken the spell of “you can’t.”

Life itself likewise always turns towards one an infinitely meaningless, discouraging, dispiriting blank side on which there is nothing, any more than on a blank canvas.

But however meaningless and vain, however dead life appears, the man of faith, of energy, of warmth, and who knows something, doesn’t let himself be fobbed off like that.  He steps in and does something, and hangs on to that…”

~Vincent van Gogh

How to Believe in Yesterday

May 10, 2015

The distinction between past, present and
future is only an illusion, however persistent.

~Albert Einstein

Modern physics tells us that time does not “move” forward.  Instead, time, like space, simply is.  To us humans who cannot help but perceive our lives as proceeding from yesterday to today to tomorrow, this is a mind-boggling concept.  So let’s try to wrap some more words around it….

The laws of physics do not, indeed cannot, distinguish between an event in the “past” or an event in the “future.”  In fact, these laws do not even distinguish between change which occurs “forward” in time or “backward” in time.  The arrow of time exists only in our heads.

We humans insist that the past is gone, that only those things that can be perceived right now actually exist.  Physics tells us, quite clearly, that though this is our perception, it is not reality.  The reality is that everything, whether in the past, present or future, simply exists.  Always.  This is not wishful thinking.  This is what hard science tells us is true, even if this truth, like other hard truths from science, seems patently absurd to our perceptions (like the fact that every atom making up all physical objects is mostly empty space, even though we perceive things as solid.)

Why am I harping on this this morning?  Because this seemingly absurd description of reality comforts me.  Because it means that nothing is ever lost, nothing ever dies. It means that we are still sitting at the dinner table in the old house on Wedgemere, even though you are long gone and the house has been sold away.  It means that your infectious laugh is still ringing, even if my ears can no longer hear it.

Life as Koan

March 8, 2015

It’s only confusing
if you try to figure it out.


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