When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.


[excerpt from ‘When Death Comes’ by Mary Oliver]



He whom I enclose with my name is weeping in this dungeon.

I am ever busy building this wall all around; and as this wall goes up into

the sky day by day I lose sight of my true being in its dark shadow.

I take pride in this great wall, and I plaster it with dust and sand

lest a least hole should be left in this name;

and for all the care I take I lose sight of my true being.

Rabindranath Tagore

Ten Rules for Being Human

Cherie Carter-Scott

1.  You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it’s yours to keep for the entire period.

2.  You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called, ‘life.’

3.  There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial, error, and experimentation. The ‘failed’ experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiments that ultimately ‘work.’

4.  Lessons are repeated until they are learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can go on to the next lesson.

5.  Learning lessons does not end. There’s no part of life that doesn’t contain its lessons. If you’re alive, that means there are still lessons to be learned.

6.  ‘There’ is no better a place than ‘here.’ When your ‘there’ has become a ‘here’, you will simply obtain another ‘there’ that will again look better than ‘here.’

7.  Other people are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.

8.  What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.

9.  Your answers lie within you. The answers to life’s questions lie within you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.

10.  You will forget all this.

“The worst thing that can happen to a person who is already divided up into a dozen different compartments is to seal off yet another compartment and tell him that this one is more important than all others, and that he must henceforth exercise a special care in keeping it separate from them. That is what tends to happen when contemplation is unwisely thrust without warning upon the bewilderment and distraction of Western man.

The first thing you have to do, before you start thinking about such a thing as contemplation, is to try to recover your basic natural unity, to reintegrate your compartmentalized being into a coordinated and simple whole, and learn to live as a unified human person. This means that you have to bring back together the fragments of your distracted existence so that when you say “I” there is really someone present to support the pronoun you have uttered.”

“Some life dilemmas cannot be solved by study or rational thoght. We just live them, struggle with them, and become one with them.  Such dilemmas are not in the realm of the intellect.  They come from our feelings and our will, and they penetrate our subconscious and our body, down to the marrow our bones.”

Thich Nhat Hanh from Fragrant Palm Leaves pg 86.

The Four Agreements

A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom

(from M. Ruiz, The Four Agreements)

The Four Agreements are tools to help us in the process of personal transformation. This transformation requires an inventory of our beliefs, which are based on agreements we have made with life. We can transform our beliefs and break our old, self-limiting agreements by practicing the Four Agreements.


Be Impeccable With Your Word

Say only what you mean. The word is the most powerful tool we have as humans. Depending upon how it is used, the word can help us to become free or to enslave us. By practicing impeccability we can clear up communication problems, heal relationships, and create enough personal power to break our old limiting agreements.

Don’t Take Things Personally

Each of us lives in our own personal dream, and what we say, what we do, and the opinions we give come from the agreements that we have in our own minds – they have nothing to do with anyone else. By the same token, others’ opinions have nothing to do with us, so there is nothing to take personally. When we make the assumption that whatever happens is because of us, we continue to hurt each other and brood about what we call injustice. A huge amount of freedom is gained when we take nothing personally.

Don’t Make Assumptions

We make assumptions when we think we know what others mean, or when we think they know what we mean. The problem with making all those assumptions is that we believe them as the truth, and we blame others for the assumptions that we make. We must have the courage to ask what another means, and the courage to say what we really mean. The day we stop making assumptions, we communicate cleanly and clearly, free of emotional poison.

Always Do Your Best

This agreement makes the other three possible. When we simply do our best — not more and not less — we avoid self-condemnation and we have no regrets. Although our best is always changing, we continually strive to do our best.

A General Theory of Love — two neurologists write a book that is both poetic and factual, addressing how we become attached – from -psychological and neurological perspectives. Highly recommended.

The Artist’s Way — Julia Cameron’s book, still going strong after 25 years, leads you on a 12 week path toward greater creativity and self-knowledge.

I Will Not Die an Unlived Life — musings and meditations on what makes life meaningful, based on the author’s 6 month retreat. She asks herself profound questions about her life, and as we share her journey, we are invited to ask the same questions about our own lives. Highly recommended.

How to be a Help instead of a Nuisance — somewhat comical title belies the very practical and effective skills described. To start being a help to others, we need to truly be present and mindfully listen. This book has the best description of mindfulness I have seen yet.

The Four Agreements — draws on shamanistic tradition from Central America to outline effective principles for living one’s life.

A Path With Heart — Jack Kornfield. A good introduction to Buddhist practice by a North American master.

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying — The first 4 chapters are another clear introduction to meditation and Buddhist practice.

It’s a meaningful life – it just takes practice — Bo Lozoff.  26 practices to promote well-being, connection, and meaning in life.

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People — well known book by Stephen Covey on ways to be more effective at living as well as relationships and work.

Fragrant Palm Leaves — Thich Nhat Hahn’s journals from 1962 to 1966 reveal something of the mind, insights, dreams, and practice of this famed teacher in his 30s.

Soul Survivor – Paul Hawker’s spiritual quest through 40 days retreat on a New Zealand mountain.  A well written and authentic description of his spritual experiences and learning, especially how he learns to listen to and trust The Source as opposed to his fearful or habitual thoughts.  No particular religious background or affiliation is required to learn from this book, though it does have Christian imagery at times.

The Church of 80% Spirituality – David Roche. There are some wonderful truths in this compassionate, realistic and at times funny  book by a man with a facial disfigurement who “stopped pretending I was normal and began to accept myself the way I was”.  He points out, among other things, that it takes time – decades sometimes – to figure out what happened “back then”. That we don’t get the meaning of events right away. He tells spiritual perfectionists that 80% sincerity is as good as it gets, so we get to be human and blunder along 20% of the time, adjusting beliefs and practices to conform to the reality of being human.

Gift from the Sea – Anne Morrow Lindburgh. Reflections on life, love, marriage, children, giving and receiving, solitude and growth… and more… that came to her in a vacation with her sister. Published in 1955, it has some dated references to issues of the times, but the essence is still warm and true, and her writing is eloquent.  This book may appeal especially to women, particularly those who find too little time for themselves and puzzle over how much of themselves they can give.