Quotes and poems


If we imagine our being as a room of any size, it seems that most of us know only a single corner of that room, a spot by the window, a narrow strip on which we keep walking back and forth. It gives a kind of security. But isn’t insecurity with all its dangers so much more human?

We are not prisoners of that room.

Rilke – Letters to a Young Poet

A voice said, Look me in the stars

And tell me truly, men of earth,

If all the soul-and-body scars

Were not too much to pay for birth.

“The tasks that have been entrusted to us are often difficult.  Almost everything that matters is difficult, and everything matters.”

Rainer Maria Rilke – Letters to a Young Poet.

A Holiday Carol
by
Abby Bernal

there is a voice within us all that if we listen…long enough…hard enough….
we will hear….
it comes from the softness…within our soul….
and when I close my eyes and imagine the sound…it feels like a silk sheet sliding though my fingers….
it is a whisper…that gives us the strength to move forward through a loud cry….
it is a guide…that gives us sight…to navigate in the darkness….
and if we all listen long enough…we will hear each others’ voices when our room is silent….
if we all listen long enough…we can quench each others’ thirst with the taste of a lingering melody….
and this holiday season…if we allow ourselves to listen….
long enough….
hard enough….
we will hear the sound that begins as a whisper…grow into a song….
and collectively our inner voice…will carol….

From Abigail (Artbook Bindery, 2009), ©Abby Bernal.

Previously posted on Poetry Daily

“There is an idea current in the prevailing culture that writing about something that means you heal the pain.  I was not, when I began writing my life story, and I am not now, healed of my mother.  You do gain a small distance from anything by keeping it in suspension in your mind while you work at finding the words to fit it.  The process is so slow and incremental that you do not notice its effect, but the point is that it is a process.  I found out when I was a little girl that if you are crying uncontrollably and want to stop, the thing is to do something useful with your tears — water a plant, say.  They’ll dry up for themselves.  The same happens when you try to make sentences of painful material: the material lightens as it is put to work.”

Nualo O’Faolain in “Almost There”, pg. 36.

Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all things. –Thomas Merton

Compassion is the ultimate and most meaningful embodiment of emotional maturity. It is through compassion that a person achieves the highest
peak and deepest reach in his or her search for self-fulfillment. –Arthur Jersild

Compassion is not sentiment but is making justice and doing works of mercy. Compassion is not a moral commandment but a flow and overflow of the fullest human and divine energies. –Matthew Fox

The whole purpose of religion is to facilitate love and compassion, patience, tolerance, humility, forgiveness. –H.H. the Dalai Lama

Albert Einstein:

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.

Daniel Goleman:

The act of compassion begins with full attention, just as rapport does. You have to really see the person. If you see the person, then naturally, empathy arises. If you tune into the other person, you feel with them. If empathy arises, and if that person is in dire need, then empathic concern can come. You want to help them, and then that begins a compassionate act. So I’d say that compassion begins with attention.

Diane Berke:

The major block to compassion is the judgment in our minds. Judgment is the mind’s primary tool of separation.

Felix Adler:

To care for anyone else enough to make their problems one’s own, is ever the beginning of one’s real ethical development.

HH the Dalai Lama:

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

Joanna Macy:

Compassion literally means to feel with, to suffer with. Everyone is capable of compassion, and yet everyone tends to avoid it because it’s uncomfortable. And the avoidance produces psychic numbing — resistance to experiencing our pain for the world and other beings.

Mairead Maguire:

We frail humans are at one time capable of the greatest good and, at the same time, capable of the greatest evil. Change will only come about when each of us takes up the daily struggle ourselves to be more forgiving, compassionate, loving, and above all joyful in the knowledge that, by some miracle of grace, we can change as those around us can change too.

Martin Lowenthal:

Compassion is a foundation for sharing our aliveness and building a more humane world.

Pema Chodron:

When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it’s bottomless, that it doesn’t have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space.

Sogyal Rinpoche:

…when we finally know we are dying, and all other sentient beings are dying with us, we start to have a burning, almost heartbreaking sense of the fragility and preciousness of each moment and each being, and from this can grow a deep, clear, limitless compassion for all beings.

Viktor Frankl:

We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

Here’s something Rumi’s remarkable father had to say on the subject of conversation:

“Visitors come here when I’m ill or morose, and they don’t mention anything about disease or melancholy. They should be more generous. You can say anything here. Don’t mind my mood. Conversation breaks up the ground and allows vegetables to grow. Eggplant, radish, lettuce, peas, cabbage. Let talking find its way with no restrictions. Let the long pods sprout on their spontaneous stalks, so we can be fed the beans of conversation.”

Bahauddin

Lightness

It was your lightness that drew me,
the lightness of your talk and your laughter,
the lightness of your cheek in my hands,
your sweet gentle modest lightness;
and it is the lightness of your kiss
that is starving my mouth,
and the lightness of your embrace
that will let me go adrift.

Meg Bateman

“If you live the life you love, you will receive shelter and blessings. Sometimes the great famine of blessings in and around us derives from the fact that we are not living the life we love; rather, we are living the life that is expected of us. We have fallen out of rhythm with the secret signature and light of our own nature.” John O’Donohue

Adolescents are not monsters. They are just people trying to learn how to make it among the adults in the world, who are probably not so sure themselves.

Every word, facial expression, gesture, or action on the part of a parent gives the child some message about self-worth. It is sad that so many parents don’t realize what messages they are sending.

Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible – the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family.

Life is not what it’s supposed to be. It’s what it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.

Problems are not the problem; coping is the problem.

So much is asked of parents, and so little is given.

The recommended daily requirement for hugs is: four per day for survival, eight per day for maintenance, and twelve per day for growth.

We can learn something new anytime we believe we can.

We must not allow other people’s limited perceptions to define us.

What lingers from the parent’s individual past, unresolved or incomplete, often becomes part of her or his irrational parenting.

– quotes from Virginia Satir –

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