The greatest challenge is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going,
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

--Quoted in Vanessa Hurst: "The Flight from Disunity: Thomas Merton on Suffering," PARABOLA, Spring 2011. 

‎"There’s no shop that sells kindness; you must build it within. You can transplant hearts, but you cannot transplant a warm heart." --Dalai Lama. 

“You will walk differently alone, dear, through a thicker atmosphere, forcing your way through the shadows of chairs, through the dripping smoke of the funnels. You will feel your own reflection sliding along the eyes of those who look at you. You are no longer insulated; but I suppose you must touch life in order to spring from it.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald, "Tender Is the Night."

‎"It is possible that there exist human emanations which are still unknown to us. Do you remember how electrical currents and ‘unseen waves’ were laughed at? The knowledge about man is still in its infancy.” --Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879 – April 18, 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist who discovered the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics.

‎"I thought of Marion Woodman’s words to me last year: “when we least expect it, we get thrown off our horse.” --Patty de Llosa

‎"One word frees us of all the weight and pain in life. That word is Love." —Sophocles (c. 497/6 BC – winter 406/5 BC) is one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His first plays were written later than those of Aeschylus, and earlier than those of Euripides.

‎"Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it." --Helen Keller (June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968) an American author, political activist, and lecturer.

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened. Don't open the door to the study and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument. Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. ~ Rumi

‎"In humility is the greatest freedom. As long as you have to defend the imaginary self that you think is important, you lose your peace of heart. As soon as you compare that shadow with the shadows of other people, you lose all joy, because you have begun to trade in unrealities and there is no joy in things that do not exist." ~Thomas Merton

‎"If we could read the secret history of our “enemies," we should find in each life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm any hostility.” -Henry Longfellow (February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882) was an American poet and educator whose works include "Paul Revere's Ride," "The Song of Hiawatha," and "Evangeline." He was also the first American to translate Dante Alighieri's "The Divine Comedy."

‎"If you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then also there is no need to worry." ~The Dalai Lama

‎"Nothing is sharper than suffering, nothing is sweeter than to have suffered. The surest foundation in which this perfection may rest is humility; whatever here crawls in the deepest abjectness, that the Spirit lifts to the very heights of God, for love brings suffering and suffering brings love." Meister Ekhart Sermon VI: Sanctification.

‎"These ups and downs we go through... We are all like this, experiencing associations, frustrations. To let that be, but to feel some pure attention, even as you are, suffering, tired--a beautiful landscape. So remarkable when there is, along with that, a moment of attention--quite different. And the seeing, this contact with pure attention, is freeing." --Fran Shaw: "Notes on the Next Attention."

"Through many diverse births I have passed
seeking in vain the builder of the house.

Ah, house-framer, now I have seen thee!
Never again shalt thou build me a house.
I have broken thy rafters,
I have destroyed the king-post.
My mind is detached;
desire is extinguished."

(The Buddha) 

“If we see our suffering as produced by other people, we will take offense and struggle against it, if we see it as produced by blind fate, we will despair in the face of it. But if we see it as authored by God for a greater purpose, then we have a real chance both to accept it, and to begin to understand it.” --Charles Upton, “The Metaphysics of Suffering” (PARABOLA: Spring 2011).

‎"I believe that those who have used violence have betrayed all true revolution, they have changed nothing, they have simply enforced with greater brutality the anti-spiritual and anti-human drives that are destructive of truth and love in man." --Thomas Merton from "A Life in Letters."

‎" all the scriptures, in the Hindu Upanishads, everywhere it is said, and also in Christianity -- it is the mind which is the greatest obstacle on the spiritual path, the constant automatic thinking of the mind, constantly churning memories and desires and thoughts of the future and so on and so forth. And this mind has to be stilled somehow, in order that spiritual experiences can come through."--Irina Tweedie

‎" all the scriptures, in the Hindu Upanishads, everywhere it is said, and also in Christianity -- it is the mind which is the greatest obstacle on the spiritual path, the constant automatic thinking of the mind, constantly churning memories and desires and thoughts of the future and so on and so forth. And this mind has to be stilled somehow, in order that spiritual experiences can come through."--Irina Tweedie

‎"The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places. But still there is much that is fair. And though in all lands, love is now mingled with grief, it still grows, perhaps, the greater." —J.R.R. Tolkien: "The Fellowship of the Ring"

‎"If you hear that someone is speaking ill of you, instead of trying to defend yourself you should say: “He obviously does not know me very well, since there are so many other faults he could have mentioned." —Epictetus, Greek Stoic philosopher. Thanks to Elizabeth for this one.

‎"My life has been full of terrible misfortunes most of which never happened." --Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (February 28, 1533 – September 13, 1592) was one of the most influential writers of the French Renaissance, known for popularizing the essay as a literary genre and is popularly thought of as the father of Modern Skepticism

‎"In the river of life suffering is not intentional. In conscious life suffering is intentional and of great value." --G.I. Gurdjieff from "Sayings of Gurdjieff: An excerpt from A Study of Gurdjieff's Teaching" by Kenneth Walker.

“In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer”–these words by Albert Camus 

‎"Encountering sufferings will definitely contribute to the elevation of your spiritual practice, provided you are able to transform calamity and misfortune into the path." ~His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama

‎"Suffering is a necessary phase of existence. There is an ebb and flow within the spiritual life, between a sense of desolation and that of consolation. Both are essential. … So much of our society is built around that denial of desolation. We rush to the freezer and go straight for the figurative Häagen-Dazs. That’s subsisting on consolation, which is a very unbalanced spiritual diet.” –Jonathan Omer-Man

‎"So I return to the sensation of myself, being here. And at this point I bring my attention to the only reality there is: this moment in time. Now." --Patty de Llosa

‎"I want to work in revelations, not just spin silly tales for money. I want to fish as deep down as possible into my own subconscious in the belief that once that far down, everyone will understand because they are the same that far down." —Jack Kerouac in a letter to Ed White (July 5th 1950). Check out Neil Rusch's article: "For the Swing of Thought" in the spring issue.

‎"How to live simply? It is a big question. Let the answer come into the empty space that one must create in oneself. Trying to live simply is not the way—we don’t know how. Trying to fix it is filling the space with activity, when what is needed is to empty oneself and allow an answer to appear…" —Michel de Salzmann.

‎"To develop true compassion, first we must know that suffering is real, and that sufferings hurt." --Thupten Rinpoche

‎"Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift." --Mary Oliver, (born September 10, 1935) is an American poet.

‎"The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them." —Thomas Merton, (January 31, 1915 – December 10, 1968), 20th century Anglo-American Catholic writer, Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, poet, social activist and student of comparative religion.

By Parabola Magazine
"Our self-centeredness,our distinctive attachment to the feelingof an independent "I" works to inhibitour compassion. True compassion can only developand grow as such self-grasping is reducedand eventually eliminated." ~ Dalai Lama from Tibetan Portrait: The Power of Compassion Note courtesy of the wonderful collection @ The Beauty We Love

“I want to unfold/ I don’t want to stay folded anywhere/ Because where I am folded,/ There I am a lie….” --Rainer Maria Rilke

‎"What does it mean to know and experience my own “nothingness?” It is not enough to turn away in disgust from my illusions and faults and mistakes, to separate myself from them as if they were not, and as if I were someone other than myself. This kind of self-annihilation is only a worse illusion, it is a pretended humility which, by saying “I am nothing” I mean in effect “I wish I were not what I am."—Thomas Merton.

‎"Who knows, but that the universe is not one vast sea of compassion actually, the veritable holy honey, beneath all this show of personality and cruelty?" —Jack Kerouac. Check out Neil Rusch’s essay in our new spring issue on Jack Kerouac, his sufferings, and the esoteric, in which the “King of the Beats” encounters the teachings of P.D. Ouspensky and G.I. Gurdjieff.

“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts.” — Charles Dickens, "Great Expectations."