We’re living in a quote-heavy culture, where memes have at times replaced long, meaningful reads and the kind of delicious, deeply memorable conversations that cocoon us in a shared space of meaning and connection.
But it’s also true that we can find genuine slices of greatness in quotes or fragments of the writing and thought processes of others. These can puncture like an arrow and illuminate ideas in a powerfully stark way.
Before the Internet, before computers were widespread, I remember starting a quote-diary, filled with lines I’d pull from books and song lyrics. It was a prized possession that made me feel comforted and in communion with the world, like I had a secret key to an expansive universe that I could use and build on any time.
Many great minds have found incredibly potent ways of reaching the hearts and souls of the world with the brevity of a few words and we are lucky to be able to glean from their experiences.
Even better, these words can serve as guideposts. They have the potential to act as an introduction, so that we know where to go when we have time for longer stretches of reading.
In any case, no matter how we go about it, there is a lot of value in respecting the people, thoughts, ideas and heart-words of those who have come before us (or live right alongside us), in the name of honouring tradition as we carve our own path for change and growth.
May we all be pointed in the direction of creativity and inspiration, peace and goodwill as 2014 draws to a close and may the wisdom below be of benefit!
“The end is beginning of all things,
Suppressed and hidden,
Awaiting to be released through the rhythm
Of pain and pleasure.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti
“When a country is defeated, there remain only mountains and rivers, and on a ruined castle in spring only grasses thrive. I sat down on my hat and wept bitterly till I almost forgot time.
A thicket of summer grass
Is all that remains
Of the dreams and ambitions
Of ancient warriors.” ~ Matsuo Basho
“My day is done, and I am like a boat drawn on the beach, listening to the dance-music of the tide in the evening.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore
“And in fact the only way I can deal with this eerie situation at all is to make a conscious decision that I have already lived and finished the life I planned to live—and everything from now on will be A New Life, a different thing, a gig that ends tonight and starts tomorrow morning.” ~ Hunter S. Thompson
“Some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity.” ~ Gilda Radner
“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”
~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Parable, by Osho
The Chinese Mystic’s Last Surprise
Laughter is eternal, life is eternal, celebration continues. Actors change but the drama continues. Waves change but the ocean continues. You laugh, you change—and somebody else laughs—but laughter continues. You celebrate, somebody else celebrates, but celebration continues.
Existence is continuous, it is a continuum. There is not a single moment’s gap in it. No death is death, because every death opens a new door—it is a beginning. There is no end to life, there is always a new beginning, a resurrection.
If you change your sadness to celebration, then you will also be capable of changing your death into resurrection. So learn the art while there is still time.
I have heard about three Chinese mystics. Nobody knows their names now, and nobody ever knew their names. They were known only as the “Three Laughing Saints” because they never did anything else; they simply laughed.
These three people were really beautiful–laughing, and their bellies shaking. And then it would become an infection and others would start laughing. The whole marketplace would laugh. When just a few moments before, it was an ugly place where people were thinking only of money, suddenly these three mad people came and changed the quality of the whole marketplace. Now they had forgotten that they had come to purchase and sell. Nobody bothered about greed. For a few seconds a new world opened.
They moved all over China, from place to place, from village to village, just helping people to laugh. Sad people, angry people, greedy people, jealous people–they all started laughing with them. And many felt the key–you can be transformed.
Then, in one village it happened that one of the three died. Village people gathered and they said, “Now there will be trouble. Now we have to see how they laugh. Their friend has died; they must weep.”
But when they came, the two were dancing, laughing and celebrating the death. The village people said, “Now this is too much. When a man is dead it is profane to laugh and dance.”
They said, “The whole life we laughed with him. How can we give him the last send-off with anything else?—we have to laugh, we have to enjoy, we have to celebrate. This is the only farewell that is possible for a man who has laughed his whole life. We don’t see that he is dead. How can laughter die, how can life die?”
Then the body was to be burned, and the village people said, “We will give him a bath as the ritual prescribes.” But those two friends said, “No, our friend has said, ‘Don’t perform any ritual and don’t change my clothes and don’t give me a bath. You just put me as I am on the burning pyre.’ So we have to follow his instructions.”
And then, suddenly, there was a great happening. When the body was put on the fire, that old man had played the last trick. He had hidden many fireworks under his clothes, and suddenly there was a festival! Then the whole village started laughing. These two mad friends were dancing, then the whole village started dancing.
It was not a death, it was a new life.