Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

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.

Sourced

February 10, 2015

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“The circumference is nowhere”

January 31, 2015

I know that I have regained my center when I forgive myself both for having lost it and for the fact that I will inevitably lose it again.

Pluck It

January 30, 2015

“A man walking across a field encountered a tiger.  He fled, the tiger chasing after him.  Coming to a cliff, he caught hold of a wild vine and swung himself over the edge.  The tiger sniffed at him from above.  Terrified, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger had come, waiting to eat him.  Two mice, one white and one black, little by little began to gnaw away at the vine.  The man saw a luscious strawberry near him.  Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other.  How sweet it tasted!”

~Zen parable


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