John O'Donohue quotes


I'm taking an e-course from the Spirituality and Practice website right now on John O'Donohue. I bought Anam Cara several years ago on the advice of someone I met at one of Kragen and Beatrice's gatherings in SF. I have no idea who he was, but he asked me what my passion was and our conversation continued from there. I asked him about his passion and he mentioned Anam Cara as a book that had greatly influenced him. This e-course provides quotes and reflections from Anam Cara and other O'Donohue books each day. I'm grateful for this 'tour' of O'Donohue's thinking because even though I bought his book all those years ago, I never read it. The e-course is providing a useful guide through his material.

Two recent quotes that have impressed me:

Actually, this one is a quote of quote:
"Wordsworth, careful of the dignity of the senses, wrote that 'pleasure is the tribute we owe to our dignity as human beings." Lovely.

To contextualize this next quote, O'Donohue is in the midst of a discussion of the senses in general as "thresholds of the soul," and styles of vision in particular. He speaks of "the fearful eye," "the greedy eye," "the judgmental eye," "the resentful eye," "the indifferent eye," "the inferior eye," and ends with some words on "the loving eye." Here is what he says in part about the last eye: 

"The loving vision rises above the pathetic arithmetic of blame and judgment and engages experience at the level of its origin, structure, and destiny."

Rarely am I just absolutely stopped by a quote, but that one blew me away.

Hand-written journal project + first entry: Writing Undoes Me

For some time now I've been wanting to go through my hand-written journals and organize the most interesting entries. I haven't been able to figure how to do this exactly, and I'm still not sure, but I have decided on something: I am going to start reading through my paper journals regularly and from time to time, post on LiveJournal the most interesting stuff I find. After I'm finished, at least I'll have all my favorite stuff in one, online location. Eventually, I might make a book out of it for family posterity which sounds kind of fun.

So without further ado, here is an entry from June 13, 2006

Writing Undoes Me


I've just read a short essay entitled "Writing Undoes Me" by Pico Iyer in Shambhala Sun magazine. In essence, Iyer observes that the more he writes, the less he believes in writing. The more time he spends sorting, exploring, analyzing, and ordering the jumble of energy called thoughts that pours from his head onto the page, the less substance and reality it seems to have. Writing helps him to recognize more clearly the construct of the self as just that -- a construct, a conglomeration of thoughts, beliefs, memories, stories, labels, and relationships that he takes for his separate self. Writing is an activity that might seem to reinforce the self as the author finds evidence for his perspectives through the thought processes required to put thought on paper. But for Iyer, the process ultimately works to unravel his sense of a separate identity because he sees all the changes his mind passes through. Writing becomes a form of meditation for him.

I strongly identify with this idea of writing as a process that unravels the self. I think its power to undo me is what has kept me so faithful to it throughout my life. I cannot easily describe what happens in my head when I write, but I can give a general shape of the feelings I pass through as I write. They aren't complicated.

Typically, I feel as though I am entering somewhere when I begin to write, and the entering usually feels a bit effortful. There is a feeling of resistance. I mostly always feel this transition from non-writing to writing mind. It isn't unpleasant, but it isn't easy, either. It's a little like starting to break a sweat while exercising. Sometimes it requires considerable patience to remind myself to slow my hand down enough to form the letters legibly. After a while, my mind begins to settle, and I find myself entering a zone of presence that is special to writing. Each letter, each word, forms in a line across the page, and my mind slowly begins to harmonize with that pace. That is the place of peace, and it is the strongest indication that writing really is a contemplative activity that undoes my usual sense of self. There is peace in writing mind.



A Beauty Blessing

As stillness to silence is wed
May your heart be somewhere a God might dwell.

As a river flows in ideal sequence
May your soul discover time is presence.

As the moon absolves the dark of distance
May thought-light console your mind with brightness.

As the breath of light awakens color
May the dawn anoint your eyes with wonder.

As spring rain softens the earth with surprise
May your winter places be kissed by light.

As the ocean dreams to the joy of dance
May the grace of change bring you elegance.

As clay anchors a tree in light and wind
May your outer life grow from peace within.

As twilight fills the night with bright horizons
May Beauty await you at home beyond.

— John O'Donohue in Beauty: The Invisible Embrace

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Nasty weather

On our way home from Wisconsin, we are at this moment driving through torrential rains and tornado sirens blaring. We took cover under the drive up area of a bank. We are now back on the road hoping we don't get caught in something awful before making it home.

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