When I lay a paving stone I am not thinking about the path I am making, but only about laying that stone. I put all my attention into the task at hand and put my best effort into it. This stone will be stable, level with both the ground and the adjacent stone, with just the right sized gap around it. I take care of my body while I lift and move it and I take care of the stone while dropping it gently into place. I am unhurried. I gently smooth out the sand, tending to any lumps and ridges with my bare hands and I notice they are very skilled at this. Then I make allowances for any uneven thickness in the underside of the stone, so that every bit of it is resting, supported on the bed I have made for it. In this way, laying a stone today is always building a good path for a good tomorrow. And when tomorrow has become today and the path is finished, I do not try to keep the path only for myself, but take pleasure in watching others enjoy it, perhaps even a lizard enjoying its heat in the sun. If I notice an ant trail crossing it, if possible I will seek out their nest and rebuild the path around it, because in reality, everything we do, we do for all beings. When the path is truly completed, then it is time to carry out the next task in exactly the same manner. In this way, the Way of the path-seeker is the way of the path-builder.
Well, we’ve all wished each other a ‘happy new year’, but what makes it new? It is not the arbitrary date in the calendar, but the desire to start afresh, to start anew, to create a better person, a better life and a better world; hence the new year’s resolutions. We like our resolutions to be clear, measureable and total, such as giving up smoking, but this may not be the best time to commit to such drastic action and many resolutions do not last long. If instead, we focus on more subtle, gradual changes in ourselves, these will improve our mental states and prepare us for a healthier lifestyle some time in the future and we may then find breaking addictions and habits much easier and much more successful. However, subtle, gradual development requires steady, continuous practice, diligence and discipline. It is difficult to set targets or even to know if they have been met or not, but if we do not try, then we are guaranteed to continue making the same mistakes, suffering the same consequences, reliving the same year over and over and over again. So let me wish you a ‘Happy New Year’ by wishing you the strength and courage to look at yourself, to question your thoughts, opinions, beliefs, judgements, habits and perceptions and to look deeply into what really makes you happy and whether the things you think make you happy actually do. Then you can look at which of your thoughts, words and actions make others happy or unhappy and make a resolution to create a better world! Whatever you do, please do not do nothing. Let us make this a truly new year together.
For a very dear friend who died two days ago
My dear friend, Josie.
I will look for you wherever sunshine hides itself away,
And wherever smiles and laughter play.
And I know I will find you
In every leaf and glowing fire.
In the blackest coal and the brightest flower.
In Picasso’s blue and Vincent’s yellow.
In the still life of a fruit bowl
And the sweet song of Bach’s cello.
And in the pebble I picked on the beach for you,
A stone letter from the East.
In it I see the sparkle of your eyes,
And the white light of peace.
Soon I will place it close to where you lie,
Where you can read it still.
And I will lie on the Earth and feel its drumbeat.
I will smell the soil and touch the feet,
Of all who have passed before.
And then, reaching up to the sky,
I will give thanks for the Greatest Gift
Which you enjoyed so graciously,
Until the last,
And know you are alive in me
And the world is still changing constantly,
Because of you.
Boundless love xxx
You, me and every one of us, is nothing less, and nothing more, than distilled, concentrated, essence of Universe.
Giving and receiving
Until, you can no longer tell
Who is the giver, and who is the receiver.
She looked her would-be killer in the eye,
And saw the ignorance
That fuelled the fear
That powered the bullet
That pierced the skull
That passed right through
That took her to the other side,
Closer to the prophet than he could ever be
No matter how many times a day he prayed.
She saw a split second of confusion
When something deep inside himself
Questioned his actions,
But the wheel now firmly set in motion,
Powered by its own momentum,
Could only move in one direction,
Because, for now, he was sure,
He had God on his side.
Not so, later, when the question returned to haunt him.
Could it be the same God that had enabled her to survive?
She came back from the other side,
With wisdom way beyond her years,
Compassion and love in her pure heart,
And the words of all the prophets on her lips.
But that seed of doubt planted within him,
Would begin to grow and not let go.
In its climb towards the light,
It would demand answers.
He would see that light is knowledge
And that humans cannot grow in darkness.
He could only regret and repent,
And hope for some forgiveness.
But she – she dwelled already in the light.
She who had met the final darkness
Was hungrier than ever for its glow,
For knowledge, love and worldly peace.
The power was all hers,
All her fears already faced,
All wounds healed in love’s embrace,
All bridges crossed, no trace of hate.
She would surely find many pearls,
She would inspire and change the world.
There is a grain of truth in every opinion,
and a bucket of lies in every tiny white lie.
Like a rolling snowball, they accumulate and stick,
and as the ball grows, it becomes distorted.
Unfortunately, truths also grow distorted,
and are soon obscured,
engulfed in the fog of misperception,
which descends upon them.
Though the light may be piercing,
still they fade,
becoming harder and harder to find
and harder still to define.