In uncertain times, as a way to find wisdom and possible guidance, we can look to insightful mentors or texts for reflection and comfort. We need not be alone in our uncertainty or struggle. We can be reminded that others have been through this and found their way through.
There is a time for being ahead, a time for being behind;
A time for being in motion, a time for being in rest;
A time for being vigorous, a time for being exhausted;
A time for being safe, a time for being in danger. The Tao
The Master sees things as they are, without trying to control them.
She lets them go their own way, and resides at the center of the circle.Jack Kornfield
Looking for quotes or bon mots to inspire, to make one think, or to make sense of crazy times, whatever one’s motivation, we can find fresh ones to reconsider. What makes a quote or mentor catch our attention? Is it because it supports something we already believe? Is it because it answers something for us we hadn’t known we were struggling to understand? Does it open up something inside of us once we realize it was said or done decades or centuries earlier and can still seem relevant? Or do we wonder if a quote has been attributed to someone and may or may not be accurate? Can it still have value regardless as a message in some form?
Seven blunders of the world that lead to violence: Wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, politics without principle. Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)
Everything becomes a little different as soon as it is spoken out loud.Herman Hesse
Upon reflection this quote speaks to the idea of gossip, sharing an idea, giving a pep talk, or having a vision. When something is spoken out loud, it does become a little different. It might add energy or take it away. It may feel good, bad or neutral but no matter what, when we speak something out loud, either to ourselves or others, everything becomes a little different.
Aristotle characterized friendship into three types, an interesting framework to consider: friendship of utility, friendship of pleasure, and friendship of the good.
Friendship of utility might be our relationship with our favorite hairdresser. It is a relationship established on mutual practical benefit and may terminate as soon as that benefit is over for whatever reason, but we behave in a friendly manner while it lasts.
Friendship of pleasure would pertain to those we spend time on a shared activity like golf, bridge, movie going or wine club If we lose interest in that particular hobby or location, the friendship of pleasure may also end once the ease to get together is gone.
Friends of the good is when two people enjoy each other for their own sake because they find in each other an affinity of character that does not require externalities like a business exchange or hobby. In those cases, as Aristotle puts it, our friends become mirrors to our souls, helping us grow and become better persons just because they care about us. This kind of distinction could also apply to our relationships with family members or with our companion.
Aristotle was not a Stoic. The Stoics would have said that the only friendship that truly deserves to be called a friendship is that of the good.
from Massimo Pigliucci’s “How to Be a Stoic” pg 198
Even if these aren’t exact Budda Quotes when they were found online they struck a chord.
“Be where you are otherwise you will miss your life.”
“Be a good person but don’t waste time to prove it.”
Maybe as we come out of isolation from the intensity of the past pandemic year and a half, having some sage ways or words is a way for us to consider ourselves. Or maybe nature is a way to self soothe, and bring ourselves back to our own calm center. Or engaging in an art form, like music, writing, painting or innovating some creative idea. If we each find our ways or words to self soothe, when we interact with others, our curiosity and kindness may feel most natural.
The book by Angela Santomero ” Radical Kindness” talks to the idea of, well one, we need more kindness in the world. She describes what she calls Heart Brain or Heart See as the kindest place for humans to act. To act from our heart brain in all things of this world. The idea that our heart does have intelligence (she cites studies) and is faster to know, intuitive, simplifies and is connected to our body and mind/brain responses. She claims the true power, life-changing power comes from kindness and the act of giving and receiving in our living years. For her this heart brain energy, practice and choice would result in more harmony and fewer conflicts.
Many of us are weary of the conflicts and lack of harmony all around us, wishing someone else would stop it or be different, or let go of old stories, or current disagreements. The practice and challenge seems to be to treat ourselves with kindness and consideration too. And treat and see everyone else from that same place as well, be it family or a stranger. Act from our hearts. See with our hearts. Heart See.
In reading about the philosophy of Stoicism it can offer a person pause. Pause to consider one’s motivations in this modern world, how one might operate, and maybe ways to self-regulate one self. Being a stoic is not about the stiff upper lip definition many of us might think, but rather a philosophy about how to live, how to treat others, and the basis stems from one’s ethics, morals and integrity having priority in how one is motivated.
Stoic philosophy fits with the Serenity Prayer of accepting the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference. During a pandemic like covid these are lessons we are facing over and over. Having a philosophy to practice acceptance, courage and wisdom seem important.
The Philosophy of Stoicism is ancient and seems focused on the individual practice of how one lives one’s life, rather than joining an organized group. The practice is in the doing. The core essence is in bringing ethics, morals and integrity into the day to day living of one’s life. One can have material bounty too, yet the ethics and integrity of how one is externally driven and acts would have priority to a Stoic, not gaining the externals like money or power themselves.
Many of us seem to have lost our ways, or gotten gobbled up by external dramas and devices. Could practicing Stoicism offer another way to connect with one own’s internal compass, that sense of rightness for oneself? When one is lined up with one’s own integrity and ethics, one often finds a joyful sense of groundedness, comfort, and even purpose. May we have the courage to change the things we can.