“The thing the sixties did was to show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn’t the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility.”
“Love is like a precious plant. You can’t just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it’s going to get on by itself. You’ve got to keep on watering it. You’ve got to really look after it and nurture it.”
“We live in a world where we have to hide to make love, while violence is practiced in broad daylight.”
“Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.”
“You don’t need anybody to tell you who you are or what you are. You are what you are! There’s nothing new under the sun. All the roads lead to Rome. And people cannot provide it for you. I can’t wake you up. Only you can wake you up. I can’t cure you, only you can cure you.”
“You’re all geniuses, and you’re all beautiful. You don’t need anyone to tell you who you are. You are what you are. Get out there and get peace, think peace, and live peace and breathe peace, and you’ll get it as soon as you like.”
“That’s what the great masters and mistresses have been saying ever since time began. They can point the way, leave signposts and little instructions in various books that are now called holy and worshipped for the cover of the book and not for what it says, but the instructions are all there for all to see, have always been and always will be.”
“I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It’s just that the translations have gone wrong.”
“Peace is not something you wish for; it’s something you make, something you do, something you are, and something you give away. Declare it. Just the same way we declare war. That is how we will have peace… we just need to declare it.”
“Produce your own dream. If you want to save Peru, go save Peru. It’s quite possible to do anything, but not if you put it on the leaders and the parking meters. Don’t expect Carter or Reagan or John Lennon or Yoko Ono or Bob Dylan or Jesus Christ to come and do it for you. You have to do it yourself.”
“My role in society, or any artist’s or poet’s role, is to try and express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all.”
“When you do something noble and beautiful and nobody noticed, do not be sad. For the sun every morning is a beautiful spectacle and yet most of the audience still sleeps.”
“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”
“We build walls, install security systems and wage wars. We cling to the belief that if only our tribe can destroy its enemies, then all will be well— a tragic misconception if there ever was one, for the stark truth is that we will either learn to live in peace or go extinct as a species.” ~Jalaja Bonheim
And so, I myself was re-creating the very “us-versus-them” dichotomy that is the source of all wars. Trump is, in my view, an embodiment of tribal conditioning at its worst. Yet here I was, grappling with it within myself — not for the first and, I fear, not for the last time.”
“When you find peace and quiet in the midst of busyness and clamor, then towns and cities become mountain forests; afflictions are enlightenment, sentient beings realize true awakening… You have to actually experience stable peacefulness before you attain oneness; you cannot force understanding.” ~Zen Master Foyan
Why? The task of the journey just requires the sense of doubt to cease. If you do not actively wonder, how can the sense of doubt cease?
“The Great Way is not difficult for those not attached to preferences. When neither like nor dislike arises, all is clear and undisguised. If you wish to know the truth, then hold to no opinions for or against anything. To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind..”
The following is Richard Clarke’s translation of the Hsin Hsin Ming (Verses on Faith in Mind) by Seng-ts’an, the 3rd patriarch of Zen….
The Great Way is not difficult for those not attached to preferences. When neither like nor dislike arises, all is clear and undisguised. Separate by the smallest amount, however, and you are as far from it as heaven is from earth.
If you wish to know the truth, then hold to no opinions for or against anything. To set up what you like against what you dislike is the dis-ease of the mind.
When the fundamental nature of things is not recognized, the mind’s essential peace is disturbed to no avail. The Way is perfect as vast space is perfect, where nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess.
Indeed, it is due to our grasping and rejecting that we do not know the true nature of things. Live neither in the entanglements of outer things, nor in ideas or feelings of emptiness. Be serene and at one with things and erroneous views will disappear by themselves.
When you try to stop activity to achieve quietude, your very effort fills you with activity. As long as you remain attached to one extreme or another you will never know Oneness. Those who do not live in the Single Way cannot be free in either activity or quietude, in assertion or denial.
Deny the reality of things and you miss their reality; assert the emptiness of things and you miss their reality. The more you talk and think about it the further you wander from the truth. So cease attachment to talking and thinking, and there is nothing you will not be able to know.
To return to the root is to find the essence, but to pursue appearances or “enlightenment” is to miss the source. To awaken even for a moment is to go beyond appearance and emptiness.
Changes that seem to occur in the empty world we make real only because of our ignorance. Do not seek for the truth; Only cease to cherish opinions.
Do not remain in a dualistic state; avoid such easy habits carefully. If you attach even to a trace of this and that, of right and wrong, the Mind-essence will be lost in confusion. Although all dualities arise from the One, do not be attached even to ideas of this One.
When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way, there is no objection to anything in the world; and when there is no objection to anything, things cease to be in the old way. When no discriminating attachment arises, the old mind ceases to exist.
Let go of things as separate existences, and mind too vanishes. Likewise when the thinking subject vanishes so too do the objects created by mind.
The arising of “other” gives rise to self; giving rise to self generates others. Know these seeming two as facets of the One Fundamental Reality. In this Emptiness, these two are really one, and each contains all phenomena. If not comparing, nor attached to “refined” and “vulgar”— you will not fall into judgment and opinion.
The Great Way is embracing and spacious— to live in it is neither easy nor difficult. Those who rely on limited views are fearful and irresolute: The faster they hurry, the slower they go.
To have a narrow mind, and to be attached to getting enlightenment is to lose one’s center and go astray. When one is free from attachment, all things are as they are, and there is neither coming nor going.
When in harmony with the nature of things, your own fundamental nature, and you will walk freely and undisturbed. However, when mind is in bondage, the truth is hidden, everything is murky and unclear, and the burdensome practice of judging brings annoyance and weariness. What benefit can be derived from attachment to distinctions and separations?
If you wish to move in the One Way, do not dislike the worlds of senses and ideas. Indeed, to embrace them fully is identical with true Enlightenment. The wise person attaches to no goals but the foolish person fetters himself or herself.
There is one Dharma, without differentiation. Distinctions arise from the clinging needs of the ignorant. To seek Mind with the discriminating mind is the greatest of mistakes.
For the Realized mind at one with the Way, all self-centered striving ceases. Doubts and irresolutions vanish, and the Truth is confirmed in you. With a single stroke you are freed from bondage; nothing clings to you and you hold to nothing.
All is empty, clear, Self-illuminating, with no need to exert the mind. Here, thinking, feeling, understanding, and imagination are of no value. In this world “as it really is” there is neither self nor other-than-self.
To know this Reality directly is possible only through practicing non-duality. When you live this non-separation, all things manifest the One, and nothing is excluded. Whoever comes to enlightenment, no matter when or where, realizes personally this fundamental Source.
Each thing reveals the One, the One manifests as all things. To live in this Realization is not to worry about perfection or non-perfection. To put your trust in the Heart-Mind is to live without separation, and in this non-duality you are one with your Life-Source.
Words! Words! The Way is beyond language, for in it there is no yesterday, no tomorrow, no today.
by Seng-ts’an, Third Zen Patriarch
Translation by Richard Clarke
“We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.” ~Albert Einstein
If you turn on the news, the human species seems to be at a crisis point. Poverty, racism, political division, ecological destruction, social instability and other seemingly “unsolvable” problems appear to be getting worse. And yet, when walking in a forest or looking up at the night sky there is a sense that we live in a Universe of great balance, mystery and beauty.
The wise among our species have repeatedly offered very simple solutions to humanity’s difficulties. Walt Whitman and Van Gogh were overwhelmed by the beauty that surrounds us, and sought to share that in their poetry and paintings. The Dalai Lama has often said that we just need to prioritise peace, gratitude, love and wisdom. That the human family’s problems are caused by closed hearts and minds, and will be solved as more and more of us open them. Could it be that simple?
“If there is love, there is hope to have real families, real brotherhood, real equanimity, real peace. If the love within your mind is lost, if you continue to see other beings as enemies, then no matter how much knowledge or education you have, no matter how much material progress is made, only suffering and confusion will ensue.” ~Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama’s advice aligns with what Jesus taught, what Charlie Chaplin spoke of in the 1930s (see video below) as Hitler’s popularity was rising in Germany. At that time, both Chaplin and Einstein stressed our need for more compassion, imagination and kindness, less of an emphasis on technology, materialism and knowledge.
They believed that humanity’s problems stem from a lack of love rooted in a crisis of thinking, the dominant world view of warrior civilizations that promote fear, aggression and attention to problems instead of gratitude, love and attention to creative solutions.
The sad truth is that modern people see the world in simplistic ways, much as our ancestors did 2000 years ago. Our secular institutions (media, government, education) train us to categorise and compartmentalise reality, to focus on differences, rather than relationships and connections.
We seem to see life as a struggle, identifying ourselves (and others) by race, religion, nationality, political affiliation, gender, sexual preference (gay/straight), education level and/or career status. We separate the world in our minds, setting ourselves into constant battle with each other.
The recent election in the United States shows how such thinking can feed polarisation, anger and conflict. These distinctions and comparisons keep us boxed in “us vs. them” narratives of nationalism, racism, elitism and identity politics. This feeds a perpetual warrior mentality, political conflict, militarism, a sense of competition, fear and division.
To become wiser as a species, Einstein believed that we need to develop a broader and deeper sense of identity, one that focuses on our relationship with the Universe (and one another) rather than cultural differences. He encouraged us to transcend our human identifications (of race, politics, gender, nationality, religion), focusing on our connection to the Cosmos and the planet. Understanding ourselves to be Earth residents, children of Nature (or God) and the Universe, points us in the right direction. He said:
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
What is missing in mainstream consciousness is an awareness of ourselves as members of the human family, the Universe and the Earth community. We tend to ignore that our cells and bodies are part of the creative history of evolution. That our atoms are part of the history of the Cosmos.
Peace and gratitude arise naturally in our hearts when we take time to celebrate and reflect upon how we are each a part of a much greater whole. Such awareness dawned on a wide scale for humanity during the 1960’s, and we need it to rise again. As Alan Watts expressed:
“If you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much extraordinary phenomena of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy. You are all just like that.”
What Einstein, Watts, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., the Dalai Lama and many others believed is that our species has the potential to grow wiser, more creative and loving as a species. We just need to be mindful of our connection to the rest of humanity, to Nature and the Cosmos. We need to be more rooted in a spiritual view, rather than a materialistic one.
Most modern people are so preoccupied with economic status, social ranks and cultural identities that we ignore the Universe that brought us into being, the systems of Nature that we belong to, and that sustain our lives. Because of this we get caught up in petty human dramas, militarism, nationalism, economics and global games of politics.
Our species needs to understand how we are a living part of Nature, to stop us from falling into the deluded thinking patterns and emotional dramas we create. We need to see how our compartmentalised world views create conflict (both inner and outer), limiting our ability to cooperate with those who think differently than we do, suppressing our potential for deeper peace, balance, wisdom, compassion and joy.
Spiritual traditions (together with a more unified vision of science) can help remind us that we belong to the greater community of life. That we live in a creative Universe, and belong to the natural world.
“Who would deny that when I am sipping tea in my tearoom I am swallowing the whole universe with it and that this very moment of my lifting the bowl to my lips is eternity itself transcending time and space?” ― D.T. Suzuki
Lao Tsu’s Tao Te Ching and the Dharma of the Buddha point in this direction. It’s there in the mystic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, Zen and Islam as well. Abraham Isaac Kook describes this view (below) from the perspective of the Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism:
“An epiphany enables you to sense creation not as something completed, but as constantly becoming, evolving, ascending. This transports you from a place where there is nothing new to a place where there is nothing old, where everything renews itself, where heaven and earth rejoice as at the moment of creation.”
Many Indigenous cultures identify daily with the Source of Life, with Nature and the Earth community. This identification is important, understanding the greater whole (and feeling gratitude in their hearts) guides the community with problem-solving and decision making.
Indigenous cultures have practices to help them stay conscious of their Earth identity and responsibility to the planet, as well as human generations into the future. Because of this native cultures have lived more in balance and harmony with the Earth.
“Growth comes with an increasing awareness of and respect for Great Mystery in all people and things, with an awareness that this force of mystery is at work in all events. Growth comes through tolerance for the infinite variety of ways in which Great Spirit, the Infinite,may express itself in this Universe.” ~Ed McGaa, Oglala Lakota
Can civilization’s people grow wiser and more aware of our connection to the Earth, more compassionate to other creatures and fellow human beings? We must, because the Earth really is at a crisis point. The struggle now of Native Americans trying to stop an oil pipeline at Standing Rock, is indicative of the challenge we face, as a species. We need to come together and challenge those still caught up in mindsets of fear, materialism and greed. But will be more successful if our efforts are grounded in a different way of thinking, guided by wisdom, gratitude and love.
If we don’t learn to live in harmony with Nature (and be generous with each other) all future generations will suffer. The future will be dystopian, violent, poverty stricken and sorrowful, as it already is in ghetto communities around the planet, in places like Syria, Yemen, Gaza and Iraq.
We need to understand how cultural narratives and scientific paradigms influence our world views. How beliefs shape our thinking, how thoughts influence feelings, how emotions regulate our actions, the way we view problems and experience our lives.
As we grow wiser, and learn to love more deeply, the human community will be in a better position to solve our problems. Because we’ll have identified and corrected (in our hearts and minds) the source of our difficulties, our disconnection with wisdom and love (within us), Nature, Life and the Universe (all around us).
Understanding how rare and beautiful our planet is (and how precious our lives are) can open our hearts, fill us with gratitude, guide our creativity, lead us to new ways of thinking, and more humane ways of being.
By Christopher Chase, December 2016
“Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That’s kinda cool! That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson
“Over the course of the last hundred years, Western scientists have given us a deeper view of the Universe, of Life & Nature as a creative and unified self-organizing process. Unfortunately, most modern societies are still operating with outdated ideas and assumptions, that do not reflect this new paradigm. Albert Einstein understood this, as have many others. In order to survive as a species, it is essential that we shift paradigms, developing ways of thinking (and behaving) that are more aligned with how human life and Nature’s systems actually work.” ~Paradigms are Made for Shifting
“What is needed to launch our societies along the humanistic path is some sort of evolutionary compass. Some way of guiding our efforts so that they are in tune with, aligned with, the general evolutionary processes of which we are a part… So rather than seek to dominate the planet, the quest becomes one of dynamic harmonization, of evolutionary consonance, in short, of syntony. The evolutionary compass, then, would be one that points our way toward syntonious pathways for future creation.” ~Alexander Laszlo
“The greatest revolution of our time is in the way we see the world. The mechanistic paradigm underlying the Industrial Growth Society gives way to the realization that we belong to a living, self-organizing cosmos.” ~Joanna Macy
“You are not IN the universe, you ARE the universe, an intrinsic part of it. Ultimately you are not a person, but a focal point where the universe is becoming conscious of itself. What an amazing miracle.” ~Eckhart Tolle
* How Wisdom Grows – Educating Hearts & Minds * Paradigms are Made for Shifting * Wholeness: a Coherent Approach to Reality – David Bohm * Systems Thinking – Rediscovering Nature’s Paradigm * Love vs. Power: A Tale of Two Mindsets * Perpetual Curse of the Warrior Mindset * How We Participate in the Creative Life of the Universe * How Einstein Saw the World * Poetry Surrounds Us – Vincent Van Gogh * Shifting Paradigms: Aligning with the Wisdom of Nature * How Wisdom Awakens Us From Our Dreams * Alan Watts – Everything is Interconnected & Inseparable *