The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers & cities; but to know someone who thinks & feels with us, & who, though distant, is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.
We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.
But many of us seek community solely to escape the fear of being alone. Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape.
Beauty is not who you are on the outside, it is the wisdom and time you gave away to save another struggling soul like you.
Love is our most unifying and empowering common spiritual denominator. The more we ignore its potential to bring greater balance and deeper meaning to human existence, the more likely we are to continue to define history as one long inglorious record of man’s inhumanity to man.
[I]n Africa I was a member of a family—of a sort of family that the people of your culture haven't known for thousands of years. If gorillas were capable of such an expression, they would tell you that their family is like a hand, of which they are the fingers. They are fully aware of being a family but are very little aware of being individuals. Here in the zoo there were other gorillas—but there was no family. Five severed fingers do not make a hand.
The real community of man, in the midst of all the self-contradictory simulacra of community, is the community of those who seek the truth, of the potential knowers...of all men to the extent they desire to know. But in fact, this includes only a few, the true friends, as Plato was to Aristotle at the very moment they were disagreeing about the nature of the good...They were absolutely one soul as they looked at the problem. This, according to Plato, is the only real friendship, the only real common good. It is here that the contact people so desperately seek is to be found...This is the meaning of the riddle of the improbable philosopher-kings. They have a true community that is exemplary for all other communities.
Once again, we are reminded that awakening, or enlightenment is not the property of Buddhism, any more than Truth is the property of Christianity. Neither the Buddha nor the Christ belongs exclusively to the communities that were founded in their names. They belong to all people of goodwill, all who are attentive to the secret which lives in the depths of their breath and their consciousness. (14)
Many people in this room have an Etsy store where they create unique, unreplicable artifacts or useful items to be sold on a small scale, in a common marketplace where their friends meet and barter. I and many of my friends own more than one spinning wheel. We grow our food again. We make pickles and jams on private, individual scales, when many of our mothers forgot those skills if they ever knew them. We come to conventions, we create small communities of support and distributed skills--when one of us needs help, our village steps in. It’s only that our village is no longer physical, but connected by DSL instead of roads. But look at how we organize our tribes--bloggers preside over large estates, kings and queens whose spouses’ virtues are oft-lauded but whose faces are rarely seen. They have moderators to protect them, to be their knights, a nobility of active commenters and big name fans, a peasantry of regular readers, and vandals starting the occasional flame war just to watch the fields burn. Other villages are more commune-like, sharing out resources on forums or aggregate sites, providing wise women to be consulted, rabbis or priests to explain the world, makers and smiths to fashion magical objects. Groups of performers, acrobats and actors and singers of songs are traveling the roads once more, entertaining for a brief evening in a living room or a wheatfield, known by word of mouth and secret signal. Separate from official government, we create our own hierarchies, laws, and mores, as well as our own folklore and secret history. Even my own guilt about having failed as an academic is quite the crisis of filial piety--you see, my mother is a professor. I have not carried on the family trade.We dwell within a system so large and widespread, so disorganized and unconcerned for anyone but its most privileged and luxurious members, that our powerlessness, when we can summon up the courage to actually face it, is staggering. So we do not face it. We tell ourselves we are Achilles when we have much more in common with the cathedral-worker, laboring anonymously so that the next generation can see some incremental progress. We lack, of course, a Great Work to point to and say: my grandmother made that window; I worked upon the door. Though, I would submit that perhaps the Internet, as an object, as an aggregate entity, is the cathedral we build word by word and image by image, window by window and portal by portal, to stand taller for our children, if only by a little, than it does for us. For most of us are Lancelots, not Galahads. We may see the Grail of a good Classical life, but never touch it. That is for our sons, or their daughters, or further off.And if our villages are online, the real world becomes that dark wood on the edge of civilization, a place of danger and experience, of magic and blood, a place to make one’s name or find death by bear. And here, there be monsters.
Without God man neither knows which way to go, nor even understands who he is... One of the deepest forms of poverty a person can experience is isolation... Poverty is often produced by a rejection of God's love, by man's basic and tragic tendency to close in on himself, thinking himself to be self-sufficient or merely an insignificant and ephemeral fact, a stranger in a random universe...The human being develops when ... his soul comes to know itself and the truths that God has implanted deep within, when he enters into dialogue with himself and his Creator... It is not by isolation that man establishes his worth, but by placing himself in relation with others and with God.
Many people seek fellowship because they are afraid to be alone...let him who cannot be alone beware of community. He will do harm to himself and to the community. Alone you stood before God when he called you; alone you had to answer that call; alone you had to struggle and pray; and alone you will die and give an account to God. You cannot escape yourself, for God has singled you out.
If you have committed all things to impacting a life at a time, or impacting a community or society, then welcome to a life of significance.
You can be in the vanguard of those that bring a change to the community and to the nation as a whole.
A person could waste an important part of his living if he refuses to come into significance; if he refuses to impact lives around, the family and in the community or in the society.
The principles of godliness must be ensured to be received by all in the community, city and the nation, even by the young and old.
Everybody is a story. When I was a child, people sat around kitchen tables and told their stories. We don't do that so much anymore. Sitting around the table telling stories is not just a way of passing time. It is the way the wisdom gets passed along. The stuff that helps us to live a life worth remembering.
We ought to, as human beings, have the courage to seek a collective “truth” that benefits our species the most, and to accept that all of our doctrines and beliefs may just be incomplete. That we don’t know it all and that perhaps we never will. That others like us may have something to teach us, and we may have something to contribute to their communities. That communities, types of people, are divisions we’ve created for ourselves. That for all of what we know, the knowledge and wisdom that we have gathered in the few millennia may be a small fraction of what is there to be discovered, understood and applied.
The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.
Some people think they can find satisfaction in good food, fine clothes, lively music, and sexual pleasure. However, when they have all these things, they are not satisfied. They realize happiness is not simply having their material needs met. Thus, society has set up a system of rewards that go beyond material goods. These include titles, social recognition, status, and political power, all wrapped up in a package called self-fulfillment. Attracted by these prizes and goaded on by social pressure, people spend their short lives tiring body and mind to chase after these goals. Perhaps this gives them the feeling that they have achieved something in their lives, but in reality they have sacrificed a lot in life. They can no longer see, hear, act, feel, or think from their hearts. Everything they do is dictated by whether it can get them social gains. In the end, they've spent their lives following other people's demands and never lived a life of their own. How different is this from the life of a slave or a prisoner?
To like many people spontaneously and without effort is perhaps the greatest of all sources of personal happiness.
Happiness is good, but well-overrated: what we hate most are the very motivators that put us in gear. A man drifts along with little to contribute until something agitates him enough to make a difference, whether for himself or for his communities.
We live in a community of people not so that we can suppress and dominate eachother or make each other miserable but so that we can better and more reliably satisfy all life's healthy needs.
People need each other. Our well-being is tightly tethered to the well-being of people we do not know, most of whom look nothing like ourselves. Happiness, I realized right there in breathing class, requires engagement.
Deep-rooted happiness may require a sense of purpose. If I don't feel that I am in some small way contributing to the greater good, holding on to happiness is like carrying water in my hands.
If a city is designed in a way that makes a long drive to work necessary, we harm the social health of that city. If a lot of people cycle, it's probably an indication that you live in a healthy neighborhood. This is something that should be seriously considered in urban planning, if you want to ensure a neighborhood togetherness and trust among locals.
They want us to be afraid. They want us to be afraid of leaving our homes. They want us to barricade our doors and hide our children. Their aim is to make us fear life itself! They want us to hate. They want us to hate 'the other'. They want us to practice aggression and perfect antagonism. Their aim is to divide us all! They want us to be inhuman. They want us to throw out our kindness. They want us to bury our love and burn our hope. Their aim is to take all our light! They think their bricked walls will separate us. They think their damned bombs will defeat us. They are so ignorant they don’t understand that my soul and your soul are old friends. They are so ignorant they don’t understand that when they cut you I bleed. They are so ignorant they don’t understand that we will never be afraid, we will never hate and we will never be silent for life is ours!
Some things cannot be fixed; they can only be carried. Grief like yours, love like yours, can only be carried.Survival in grief, even eventually building a new life alongside grief, comes with the willingness to bear witness, both to yourself and to the others who find themselves inside this life they didn’t see coming. Together, we create real hope for ourselves,and for one another. We need each other to survive.I wish this for you: to find the people you belong with, the ones who will see your pain, companion you, hold you close,even as the heavy lifting of grief is yours alone. As hard as they may seem to find at times, your community is out there. Lookfor them. Collect them. Knit them into a vast flotilla of light that can hold you.
Here’s to the “so-so-ing” it.Here’s to the working since I was 14 in a smoke clouded day. Here’s to saying I could stay until the forms were faxed.Here’s to driving home past dark and dozing off the road.Here’s to no over time.Here’s to the long line to management.Here’s to ALREADY DONE THAT!Here’s to quitting, saying I’m through, saying I can’t compete for your leftover lean cuisine. Here’s to art. Here’s to freedom. Here’s to saying God gave me every penny and knowing it’s true. Here’s to the next 40 years with you.Here’s to the new.— Adrianna Stepiano
I don’t know why everyoneis still trying to find out whether heaven and hell exist.Why do we need more evidence?They exist here on this very Earth.Heaven is standing atop Mount Qasiounoverlooking the Damascene sightswith the wind carrying Qabbani’sdulcet words all around you.And hell is only four hours away in Aleppo where children’s cries drown out the explosions of mortar bombsuntil they lose their voice,their families, and their limbs.Yes, hell certainly does existright now, at this moment,as I pen this poem. And all we’re doingto extinguish this hellfireis sighing, shrugging, liking, and sharing.Tell me: what exactly does that makeus? Are we any better than the gatekeepers of hell?
Now is not the time for bigots and racists. No time for sexists and homophobes. Now, more than ever, is the time for ARTISTS. It’s time for us to rise above and to create. To show humanity. To spread hope. We must prevent society from destroying itself, from losing its way. Now is the time for love.
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.
We read off the ancient Hebrew words, with no idea of what they might mean, and the congregation responds with more words that they don't understand either. We are gathered together on a Saturday morning to speak gibberish to each other, and you would think, in these godless times, that the experience would be empty, but somehow it isn't. The five of us, huddled together shoulder to shoulder over the bima, read the words aloud slowly, and the congregation, these old friends and acquaintances and strangers, all respond, and for reasons I can't begin to articulate, it feels like something is actually happening. It's got nothing to do with God or souls, just the palpable sense of goodwill and support emanating in waves from the pews around us, and I can't help but be moved by it. When we reach the end of the page, and the last amen has been said, I'm sorry that' it's over. I could stay up here a while longer. And as we step down to make our way back to the pews, a quick survey of the sadness in my family's wet eyes tells me that I'm not the only one who feels that way. I don't feel any closer to my father than I did before, but for a moment there I was comforted, and that's more than I expected.
...it does not matter if we are forgotten; what matters is the effect we have on those around us and those who come after us. What matters is how our own lives affect the larger, perpetual community of the living.
Love, marriage, divorce, infidelity... life was the same here as anywhere else, wasn't? She realized now wrong she'd been; the pali wasn't a headstone and Kalaupapa wasn't a grave. It was a community like any other, bound by ties deeper than most, and people here went to their deaths as people did anywhere: with great reluctance, dragging the messy jumble of their lives behind them.
When individuals and communities do not govern self, they risk being ruled by external forces that care less about the well-being of the village.