Know Yourself

“Love the world as your self; then you can care for all things.” ― Byron Katie

It is easy to love the world when surrounded by the beautiful parts, and not so easy when we are faced with the darker side of humanity (or ourselves).

When I was in Greece, it struck me how long humans have been searching for the answers to the same questions.

Humankind’s greatest struggles start within each individual and are projected into our outer world.

Some of us seem to be wired to heal the world, and others seem to be wired to destroy the world. Most of us are a mixture of both. Lately I’ve been contemplating our collective movements, like ants, bees, wolves, or termites, all being driven by the goals of the pack. I am starting to think we are not much different than these creatures, other than some of us being ants, others bees, and so on. We may have free will, and I suppose ultimately we can choose to take a  different path, but there is no denying that phantom drive lurking inside of us, leading us to do things we don’t understand or want.

Or is it the insatiable want that drives us to destroy what’s in our paths.

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Creating Inner Peace in a Troubled World

“Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it toward others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world.”
― Etty Hillesum

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we were all able to work towards inner peace to such a degree that it resulted in global peace? It seems too far-fetched to imagine, yet still we must continue to strive to find that place within ourselves, as Etty Hillesum did in the midst of the holocaust. Etty was determined not to let hatred take over her soul, and to learn to see the beauty that remained.

I am learning to let go of hatred and to instead focus on love. I am learning that love is free, and hate always comes at a price. It takes precious energy to hate, investing in memories from the past in order to keep it going. In order to maintain the darkness of hatred, we must deny the cracks of light that penetrate that darkness. The small acts of love that surround us, even in the midst of this hatred, can sustain us if we allow ourselves to see and experience the true essence of our being. Indeed, I want to be the person who choses to take the path of love in each moment.

As Etty learned after being taken to a concentration camp, love requires a certain amount of discipline and practice when surrounded by hatred and savagery. We can always find a justifiable reason to hate, but don’t forget, we can just as easily look for a reason to love.

“I know and share the many sorrows a human being can experience, but I do not cling to them; they pass through me, like life itself, as a broad eternal stream…and life continues…” 
― Etty Hillesum

The Time for the Healing of the Wounds Has Come

Last night I saw Wynton Marsalis with JCLO. First off, since I am a former trumpet player, I am in absolute awe of his talent and of the talent of every member of this band. My favorite part of the concert was part of their Presidential Suite – Nelson Mandela’s “The Time for the Healing of the Wounds Has Come”.

I wasn’t able to find a clip of just that song on YouTube, but if you would like to listen to it, skip ahead to 1:08 of this clip; I guarantee you will be moved. This song brought tears to my eyes, it was so beautiful. It reminded me of my visit to Pretoria, South Africa, and getting to know some of the lovely people who live there. The song also reminded me of the healing power of reconciliation, of which our country seems to be in desperate need of right now.

Swimming in the pool called life.

1 I swimI started the morning off by swimming. It felt great to get out of my head for a bit and concentrate on being in the moment. With each stroke I felt myself letting go of my worries; listening to myself breathing, feeling the resistance of the water, feeling the muscles in my legs tighten with each kick. For one hour, I was where I needed to be – letting the water teach me how to be.

Quietude at the beach

Ask the world to reveal its quietude-

not the silence of machines when they are still,

but the true quiet by which birdsongs,

trees, bellworts, snail, clouds, storms

become what they are, and are nothing else.

– Poem by Wendell Berry