Saturday, October 21, 2017

A Good Second Book

     Lately I've been re-reading an old friend, The Second Book of the Tao By Stephen Mitchell.  Mr. Mitchell also translated the Tao Te Ching, which is how I became familiar with his work.  While he readily admits that he does not read or speak Chinese, he promotes the idea that his translations are in keeping with the spirit of Taoism.

     I really liked his first book, the Tao Te Ching.  The Second Book of Tao is also good, with the translations coming across as witty and instructive.  But I think it may be hindered in the fact that Mitchell also included some parables and poems from the Zen Buddhist tradition.  To my mind, Taoism and Buddhism do have some subtle differences.  Also, his comments, while helpful in some instances, sometimes come across as a little erudite.  Maybe it's me.  Still, it's a worthwhile book, especially if you are interested in learning more about the Taoist tradition.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Some Thoughts for Today

Here are a couple of quotes to ponder:

     "Seven billion of us -- and counting -- are all "activists," because we're actively shaping our world.  The only question is:  Are we conscious activists, or unconscious activists?  We see the results of unconscious activism all around us.  Virtually every problem is caused by unconscious choices being made over and over and over again.  To compound the problem, certain people want the rest of us to be unconscious, because they benefit hugely from it. 

    "It's impossible not to make a difference.  Every choice we make leads either toward health or toward disease; there's no other direction.  The question is not "How can I, one person, make a difference?"  The questions is "What kind of difference do I want to make?"  (Julia Butterfly Hill)


     "As you come to know the seriousness of our situation -- the war, the racism, the poverty in the world -- you come to realize that it is not going to be changed just by words or demonstrations.  It's a question of risking your life.  It's a question of living your life in drastically different ways."  (Dorothy Day)


Saturday, October 7, 2017

A Small but Powerful Resource

     They say that sometimes good things come in small packages.  It is true in a book I recently read, Celtic Wisdom Book (Book in a Box).  It is part of the "book in a box" series, and the small box contains both a tiny (less than 3 1/2" square) book as well as some totem animal cards.  I have a few other books on Celtic spirituality, but none quite as informative and specific as this one.  Plus, it comes with a pronunciation guide, since the Celtic language, to me, doesn't sound like it looks on paper.

     I especially enjoyed the detailed explanations of the seasonal celebrations in the Celtic calendar.  Matthews does a commendable job of giving the history of the seasons, the animals and winds that are typical of those times, and some ideas of how to celebrate these seasons in a small gathering.  It's very useful.

     It comes with a small deck of totem animal cards which can be used for personal insights and divination.  The last chapter in the book explains the meanings of the different animals and how they may be relevant in your life.  Highly recommended.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Another Challenging Quote

     Here's another quote to challenge us to act in these challenging times:

     "The question is whether or not you choose to disturb the world around you, or if you choose to let it go on as if you had never arrived."  From Ann Patchett, a writer.

     Let's work for a better world.

(illustration courtesy of

Saturday, September 23, 2017

A Challenge for Us All

Here's a quote which speaks to us all:

     "We must dissent from the fear, the hatred, and the mistrust.  We must dissent from a nation that buried its head in the sand waiting in vain for the needs of its poor, its elderly, and its sick to disappear and just blow away.  We must dissent from a government that has left its young without jobs, education, or hope.  We must dissent from the poverty of vision and timeless absence of moral leadership.  We must dissent, because America [or any country] can do better, because America [or any country] has no choice but to do better."  From Thurgood Marshall, U.S. Supreme Court Justice (1908-1993).

     Certainly has relevance for our times, doesn't it?

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Some Insights into Rumi, Part 2

     Last week we were discussing how Rumi, the 13th century Persian mystic, found in Twin Soul in Shams of Tabriz, but later had similar spiritual companionship in two others.  How can a person have more than one Twin Soul?
     I believe that Shams was indeed Rumi's Twin Soul, and in that profound awakening, he discovered the union we all have with the One, whom he called the Friend.  Once that happened, Rumi's soul opened up and he recognized that we are all part of the One as drops of water are all a part of the sea.

     I think that Salah and Husam, Rumi's later spiritual companions after Shams' death, embodied that recognition and he celebrated that in his later poetry.

     Perhaps that is the purpose of any true Twin Soul relationship: to awaken us to our soul's connection not only with our other half, but to the divine and indeed to all in the All.  Enjoy this:

     "If you are me and I am you,
      What is this separation between you and me?
      We are the light of God, we are God's mirror.
      So why do we struggle with ourselves and with one another?"

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Some Insights on Rumi

     If you have been following this blog for very long, you know that I am a huge fan of the 13th century mystic, Rumi.  His poetry fills me like cool water on a hot day.

     It was in Rumi's poetry that I found the Twin Soul concept spelled out in beautiful language.  For example:

     "More and more awake, getting up at night,
      spinning and falling with love for Shams."


     "When union happens, my speech goes inward,
      toward Shams.  At that meeting
      the secrets of language are no longer secret."


     "Why should I seek?  I am the same as
      He.  His essence speaks through me.
      I have been looking for myself!"

     But I've long been curious as to why, after finding his Twin Soul in Shams of Tabriz, Rumi later talks about two other companions in similar language.  After the death of Shams, he found a new companion in the goldsmith Salah, and after Salah's death, his companion became Husam, who was his student and scribe.  Here is a poem fragment about Husam:

     "Husam, when my spirit completely recognizes yours,
      they recall our being one."

     Is it possible to have more than one Twin Soul?  Or did Rumi discover another spiritual truth?

     More on that next week.