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Painting by Odilon Redon

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The illusions of separation are Ironically produced in and through relationships… To ideas to each other, to ecology, to time, to everything.

We are currently witnessing these illusions in meltdown. They are disintegrating, shattering, vaporizing in every direction.

There isn’t a single thing that can be said that is not going to be attacked or amplified… Or both.

Maybe this is what it takes.

Keeping human warmth through this is critical. — Nora Bateson

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Just as we open and heal the body by sensing its rhythms and touching it with a deep and kind attention, so we can open and heal other dimensions of our being. The heart and the feelings go through a similar process of healing through the offering of our attention to their rhythms, nature, and needs. Most often, opening the heart begins by opening to a lifetime’s accumulation of unacknowledged sorrow, both our personal sorrows and the universal sorrows of warfare, hunger, old age, illness, and death. At times we may experience this sorrow physically, as contractions and barriers around our heart, but more often we feel the depth of our wounds, our abandonment, our pain, as unshed tears. The Buddhists describe this as an ocean of human tears larger than the four great oceans. — Jack Kornfield

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I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
Where I left them, asleep like cattle …
Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
And the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.

Wendell Berry

The human mind is cluttered with impediments that keep reality at bay. We know these impediments as thoughts, memories, plans and judgments. They constitute an opaque barrier between us and what is actually happening inside us and all around us. It’s very difficult for humans to pay attention to existence as it lives and breathes.

Meditation is an attempt to render the mind quiet and attentive so it can realize what and where it is in the theatre of life. It’s a simple idea but it proves difficult to implement. We are so habituated to living in the past or future without even noticing we’re not living with awareness of ourselves in the present that we lose touch with our vitality. We have in us an originality and energy source that is smothered by the weight of our conditioning.

Any artist has to learn to look at what’s really there as opposed to what she thinks is there. Seeing, listening and receiving what’s real without distorting it by our interpretations is a form of meditation. It’s the meditative mind in action.

Living with clarity is not given to us. Keeping an uncluttered mind is a discipline. In our passage from childhood to maturity we lose an essential ability, the capacity to attend to the flow of the present. We have taken on board so much mental baggage that we have become inferior imitations of cultural models. If we want to come to our original selves, we will have to empty our minds of its clutter. When we start to pay attention to how our minds work, we’re astonished at how unoriginal and repetitive it is. It’s embarrassing how stupid we have become. How did that happen? We wonder.

Meditation can help if we can pay attention without trying to control or suppress our thinking. If we can allow ourselves to be stupid without trying to hide it from ourselves, but simply watch it with interest, we have a chance to access our intelligence.

What’s underneath is often surprising, even shocking. We begin to see what we were hiding from ourselves. Grief, anger, sorrow, loss, even love and creativity are all there waiting to be sorted out and healed.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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