Monday, October 24, 2016

Fluid Reflections on Keeping a Solid Center

10 Learnings from 10 Years of Brain Pickings, Maria Popova

Fluid reflections on keeping a solid center

1. Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind.’s infinitely more rewarding to understand than to be right — even if that means changing your mind about a topic, an ideology, or, above all, yourself.

2. Do nothing for prestige or status or money or approval alone.

...prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like.

3. Be generous.

Be generous with your time and your resources and with giving credit and, especially, with your words. It’s so much easier to be a critic than a celebrator.

4. Build pockets of stillness into your life.

What could possibly be more important than your health and your sanity, from which all else springs?

5. When people try to tell you who you are, don’t believe them.

You are the only custodian of your own integrity.

6. Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity.

“how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

7. Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.

...the flower doesn’t go from bud to blossom in one spritely burst and yet, as a culture, we’re disinterested in the tedium of the blossoming. But that’s where all the real magic unfolds - in the making of one’s character and destiny.

8. Seek out what magnifies your spirit.

Who are the people, ideas, and books that magnify your spirit? Find them, hold on to them, and visit them often.

9. Don’t be afraid to be an idealist.

Supply creates its own demand. Only by consistently supplying it can we hope to increase the demand for the substantive over the superficial — in our individual lives and in the collective dream called culture.

10. Don’t just resist cynicism — fight it actively.

There is nothing more difficult yet more gratifying in our society than living with sincerity and acting from a place of largehearted, constructive, rational faith in the human spirit, continually bending toward growth and betterment. This remains the most potent antidote to cynicism. Today, especially, it is an act of courage and resistance.

Thank you, Maria Popova.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Hui: China’s other Muslims

"By choosing assimilation, China’s Hui have become one of the world’s most successful Muslim minorities."

"Surprisingly, the Hui have not lost their religion or identity despite centuries of assimilation. Mr Ma, the retired professor, says Hui people often form close-knit communities and pursue similar occupations; restaurants and taxis in many cities are run by Hui. But their religion is “still the most important binding factor”, he says. The Hui maintain a delicate balance. They can practise their religion undisturbed thanks to assimilation. But it is their religion that makes them distinct."

The Space Between Flowers

Beautiful video. The book sounds amazing too.

"Japanese photographer Masao Yamamoto (born 1957) trained as an oil painter before discovering that photography was the ideal medium for the theme that most interested him--the ability of the image to evoke memories. Small Things in Silence surveys the 20-year career of one of Japan's most important photographers. Yamamoto's portraits, landscapes and still lifes are made into small, delicate prints, which the photographer frequently overpaints, dyes or steeps in tea."

The Space Between Flowers [5 min 31 seconds]

Small Things in Silence

From here:


I am fascinated by them.

On Thin Brown Wings

Perhaps not as many days of sun
as they might have wanted,
perhaps not as much warmth,
perhaps not as much rain—
rain that soaks in like a lover’s
lingering glance, and still
beside the trail in late fall
they are everywhere,

the seeds of next year’s flowers
giving their everything to the world.

Rosemerry Trommer

My Seed Album:

On Falling

"Antaeus would challenge all passers-by to wrestling matches and remained invincible as long as he remained in contact with his mother, the earth. As Greek wrestling, like its modern equivalent, typically attempted to force opponents to the ground, he always won, killing his opponents."

On Falling

Says one teacher: where you stumble and fall,
there you'll find gold.
Says another: first there's the fall
and then we recover from the fall.
Both are the mercy of God.

And we can't forget Antaeus,
legendary wrestler and son of Terra Mater,
a fellow whose strength was renewed
whenever it happened, for every time he fell
(hurled to the ground by some opponent)
he'd land right in his mother's arms.

Teddy Macker, 'This World'

Thanks, K. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

And catch the heart off guard and blow it open


And some time make the time to drive out west
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other

So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit
By the earthed lightning of a flock of swans,

Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.
Useless to think you’ll park and capture it

More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.

Seamus Heaney, from 'The Spirit Level'

Monday, September 26, 2016


"I can’t quite shake the astonishment. I can’t quite believe what my life keeps teaching me, that material existence is a thin veil thrown over a foundation of miracles so numerous and profound we almost invariably overlook them."

Martha Beck

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Monday, September 5, 2016

A drop of your love

"Just because a drop of your love had blended in
I drank down the entire bitterness of life."

The original, in Punjabi:

Rall gai si es vich ik boond tere ishq di
Esse layi main zindagi di saari kudattan pee layi

Amrita Pritam


Friday, September 2, 2016


Storm on Galilee

What's instructive is not
That he laid down the sea
But that he seemed so unharassed
By the possibility of complete
And utter catastrophe. Yes
It could all fall apart, he seemed to say;
Yes, the storm could turn your little ship
Into a sudden coffin- yes. Faith, he told us then,
Is not trusting things will one day be better.

Faith is trusting things could never be better. No matter what.

Teddy Macker, 'This World'

Thanks, K.

Falling, Flying

The Mosquito Among the Raindrops

The mosquito among the raindrops...
It's equivalent to getting hit, says the scientist,
By a falling school bus. And hit every twenty seconds.

And the mosquito lives.

In fact, she doesn't even try to avoid the drops.
No zigzagging, no ducking. No hiding under eaves.

How does she do it?
No resistance to force.

She hitches a ride on the blow,
A stowaway on that which brings her down.

She becomes 'one with the drop,'
Knowing that to fly again
She must fall.

Teddy Macker, 'This World'

Thanks, K.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Sitting still, turning inward

"The idea behind Nowhere - choosing to sit still long enough to turn inward - is at heart a simple one. If your car is broken, you don't try to find ways to repaint its chassis; most of our problems - and therefore our solutions, our peace of mind - lie within.

To hurry around trying to find happiness outside ourselves makes about as much sense as the comical figure in the Islamic parable who, having lost a key in his living room, goes out into the street to look for it because there's more light there.

As Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius reminded us more than two millenia ago, it's not our experiences that form us but the ways in which we respond to them; a hurricane sweeps through town, reducing everything to rubble, and one man sees it as a liberation, a chance to start anew, while another, perhaps even his brother, is traumatized for life."

Page 13, 'The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere', Pico Iyer

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Morning Like a Hiroshige Print

Raining, after the driest October
in twenty years, citizens hustle
across the street to take cover.

I join in, cross the street with my bags
from the market soaked by the rain, hurry
to beat the light turning red.
A maple leaf falls, another.

At the same time, she stokes
the fire with branches
as thin as her wrists, sets
the kettle on the stove—

waits to remove my clothes,
to sit me in front of the fire
with a blanket draped
over my shoulders, to pull the kitchen
knife from the drawer
to cut the gouda, to slice the Fujis
in half, to warm a loaf of bread.

Mark Heinlein

Photo from here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


Unhappiness comes to man
Through two doorways

The first doorway is named
Not getting what you want.

The name of the second doorway is
Getting what you want.

Either takes you there;
The former faster
Than the latter.

The former teaches
The futility of willfulness.

The latter teaches the foolishness
Of believing that
Satisfaction and happiness are the same.

Excerpt from Wu Hsin, 'Aphorisms for Thirsty Fish (The Lost Writings of Wu Hsin Book 1)'

Thanks, K.

Monday, August 15, 2016


"So we have to be patient with ourselves. Over and over again we think we need to be somewhere else, and we must find the truth right here, right now; we must find our joy here, now. How seductive it is, the thought of tomorrow. We must find our understanding here. We must find it here; it is always here; this is where the grass is green."

John Tarrant


"If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with."

Dorothy, The Wizard of Oz
From The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere
by Pico Iyer

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