An uplifting news item, poem, thought or quotation each day.

20 June 2004

Personal empowerment is a two-step process: The first lesson is that you can effect significant changes in the world by directed action continued over an extended period of time, with single-minded purpose, but also with re-examination, learning and adaptive flexibility.

The second lesson is pure faith.

-Josh Mitteldorf

Juneteenth 2004

A person cannot approach the divine by reaching beyond the human. To become human: for this end has this individual person been created. 

-Martin Buber

18 June 2004

"God's gifts put man's best dreams to shame."

Sonnets from the Portuguese, #26

15-year-old Elizabeth Barrett fell from a horse and sustained a spinal injury that kept her bedridden for 25 years. She read and studied, and wrote poetry in her room. Her published work reached the eyes of a kindred poet, and Robert Browning pursued and wooed her by mail. They were married when she was 40 and he 34 years old. So nurturing was his love, that she rose from bed and shed her handicap, walked again and danced, bore a child. Her father never forgave her for marrying Browning, and they were estranged the rest of his life.


17 June 2004

We think we're supposed to be compassionate and non-judgmental, so we put on a facade and try to act that way. That may be useful up to a point -it's good to know that we can control our actions and behave well regardless of how we feel inside - but unless we're completely honest about how angry and judgmental we really are, and willing to sit with those thoughts and feelings and label them carefully over and over, we are never going to engage them in a meaningful way. We can't will the change, we can only be honest, pay attention, and let any change happen as it happens in it own time. 

One of my favorite stories is about an encounter between George Fox the founder of the Quakers and William Penn, one of his disciples. The Quakers were complete pacifists at a time when gentlemen all went around wearing swords, almost the way today we would wear a tie. And William Penn was a very worldly gentleman doing his best trying to practice this new faith. And so he came to Fox and asked if really should give up wearing a sword. And Fox replied, "Wear it as long as you can."


16 June 2004

We seek a balance among intellect, spirit and emotion. For intellectuals, there’s a tendency for reasoning to roll over the other two, becoming a consolation and then a drug. Zen practice is a technology for turning the mind in upon itself, and thereby opening the heart.

So it is in this spirit (and without suggestion of anti-intellectualism) that I read e e cummings’s romantic gem, since feeling is first.

"wholly to be a fool 

while Spring is in the world"


15 June 2004

Truth always rests with the minority, and the minority is always stronger than the majority, because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion, while the strength of a majority is illusory, formed by the gangs who have no opinion-and who, therefore, in the next instant (when it is evident that the minority is the stronger) assume its opinion … while Truth again reverts to a new minority

- from Kierkegaard's Diary, 1850 trans. Peter Rohde


14 June 2004

Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it. Far from idleness being the root of all evil, it is rather the only true good. 

- Soren Kierkegaard 

    (Either/Or vol 1, 1843) 


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