The senses, feelings, and thoughts must be allowed to be spontaneous in the faith that they will then order themselves harmoniously. To try to control the mind forcefully is like trying to flatten out waves with a board, and can only result in more and more disturbance.
Perhaps the most exasperating thing about me, about nature and the universe, is that it will never stay put. It is like a beautiful woman who will never be caught, and whose very flightiness is her charm. For the perishability and changefulness of the world is part and parcel of its liveliness and loveliness.
He who thinks that God is not comprehended, by him God is comprehended; but he who thinks that God is comprehended knows him not. God is unknown to those who know him, and is known to those who do not know him at all.
We learn nothing of very much importance when it can be explained entirely in terms of past experience. If it were possible to understand all things in terms of what we know already, we could convey the sense of color to a blind man with nothing but sound, taste, touch, and smell.
If you try to capture running water in a bucket, it is clear that you do not understand it and that you will always be disappointed, for in the bucket the water does not run. To have running water you must let go of it and let it run. The same is true of life and of God.
There is, indeed, a viewpoint from which this rationalization of life is not rational. The brain is clever enough to see the vicious circle which it has made for itself. But it can do nothing about it. Seeing that it is unreasonable to worry does not stop worrying; rather, you worry the more at being unreasonable.
Your body does not eliminate poisons by knowing their names. To try to control fear or depression or boredom by calling them names is to resort to superstition of trust in curses and invocations. It is so easy to see why this does not work. Obviously, we try to know, name, and define fear in order to make it objective, that is, separate from I.
Imagine a multidimensional spider's web in the early morning covered with dew drops. And every dew drop contains the reflection of all the other dew drops. And, in each reflected dew drop, the reflections of all the other dew drops in that reflection. And so ad infinitum. That is the Buddhist conception of the universe in an image.
As a consequence, we are at war within ourselves—the brain desiring things which the body does not want, and the body desiring things which the brain does not allow; the brain giving directions which the body will not follow, and the body giving impulses which the brain cannot understand.
Lao-tzu, that master of the law of reversed effort, who declared that those who justify themselves do not convince, that to know truth one must get rid of knowledge, and that nothing is more powerful and creative than emptiness—from which men shrink.
What we have forgotten is that thoughts and words are conventions, and that it is fatal to take conventions too seriously. A convention is a social convenience, as, for example, money ... but it is absurd to take money too seriously, to confuse it with real wealth ... In somewhat the same way, thoughts, ideas and words are "coins" for real things.
For the use of words, and thus of a book, is to point beyond themselves to a world of life and experience that is not mere words or even ideas. Just as money is not real, consumable wealth, books are not life. To idolize scriptures is like eating paper currency.
How long have the planets been circling the sun? Are they getting anywhere, and do they go faster and faster in order to arrive? How often has the spring returned to the earth? Does it come faster and fancier every year, to be sure to be better than last spring, and to hurry on its way to the spring that shall out-spring all springs?
Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence.
In a civilization devoted to the strictly abstract and mathematical ideal of making the most money in the least time, the only sure method of success is to cheat the customer, to sell various kinds of nothingness in pretentious packages.
The answer to the problem of suffering is not away from the problem but in it. The inevitability of pain will not be met by deadening sensitivity but by increasing it, by exploring and feeling out the manner in which the natural organism itself wants to react and which its innate wisdom has provided.
A successful college president once complained to me, I'm so busy that I'm going to have to get a helicopter! Well, I answered, you'll be ahead so long as you're the only president who has one. But don't get it. Everyone will expect more out of you.
Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way, like the problem of cause and effect. Make a spurious division of one process into two, forget that you have done it, and then puzzle for centuries as to how the two get together.
There is another story of a Chinese sage who was asked, How shall we escape the heat?—meaning, of course, the heat of suffering. He answered, Go right into the middle of the fire. But how, then, shall we escape the scorching flame? No further pain will trouble you!