Morning Trip (328)

“The thinker, he who is serene and self-possessed, is the brave, not the desperate soldier. He who can deal with his thoughts as a material, building them into poems in which future generations will delight, he is the man of the greatest and rarest vigor, not sturdy diggers and not lusty polygamists. He is the man of energy in whom subtle and poetic thoughts are bred. Common men can enjoy partially; they can go a-fishing rainy days; they can read poems perchance, but they have not the vigor to beget poems. They can enjoy feebly, but they cannot create. Men talk of freedom! How many are free to think? free from fear, from preturbation, from prejudice? Nine hundred and ninety-nine in a thousand are perfect slaves. How many can exercise the highest human faculties? He is the man truly–courageous, wise, ingenious–who can use his thoughts and ecstasies as the material of fair and durable creations. One man shall derive from the fisherman’s story more than the fisher has got who tells it. The mass of men do you know how to cultivate the fields they traverse. The mass glean only a scanty pittance where the thinker reaps an abundant harvest. What is all your building, if you do not build with thoughts? No exercise implies more real manhood and vigor than joining thought to thought. How few men can tell what they have thought! I hardly know half a dozen who are not too lazy for this. They cannot get over some difficulty, and therefore they are on the long way round. You conquer fate by thought. If you think the fatal thought of men and institutions, you need never pull the trigger. The consequences of thinking inevitably follow. There is no more Herculean task than to think a thought about this life and then get it expressed.
–Henry D. Thoreau, I to Myself, Entry May 6, 1858

Morning Trip (224)

“Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul. For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds, so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of men. Most of these unnumbered seeds perish and are lost, because men are not prepared to receive them. For such seeds as these cannot spring up anywhere, except in the good soil of freedom, spontaneity, and love.”
–Thomas Merton

Morning Trip (200)

“But there is one vocation–philosophy–which knows that all men, by what they think about and wish for, in effect wield all tools. It knows that men thus determine, by their manner of thinking and wishing, whether it is worthwhile to wield any.”
–Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, November

Morning Trip (136)

“…Beauty is subversive. Why? Because it is powerful. It’s powerful because it makes us dream. It makes us think. It makes us imagine a world that’s bigger than the one we know and one that’s worth taking a risk for. Even in a brutal world, beauty exists and its power leads us to hope, faith, and love.

Beauty inspires. It’s as simple as that.”

–The Words of Michael Fryer, guest contributor On Being

Morning Trip (120)

“Inspiration is a moment of contact with another reality, the moment when everything at once falls into its proper place, when as it were, the entire structure appears, and every part is seen to be related to the whole. So we cannot deny it exists, nor can we remain indifferent to the experience of this momentary, magical change in our insight. Having had the taste of this other reality (for surely it is not our everyday fare), we yet wait passively for its unpredictable reappearance. We also know that without it we are cut off from the source of our true nourishment, and everything we make is empty, without life, belongs to no organic whole.”

— Ilonka Karasz, Design Forecast Vol. I

Morning Trip (16)

“I’ve said before that every craftsman
searches for what’s not there
to practice his craft.

A builder looks for the rotten hole
where the roof caved in. A water-carrier
picks the empty pot. A carpenter
stops at the house with no door.

Workers rush toward some hint
of emptiness, which they then
start to fill. Their hope, though,
is for emptiness, so don’t think
you must avoid it. It contains
what you need!
Dear soul, if you were not friends
with the vast nothing inside,
why would you always be casting you net
into it, and waiting so patiently?

This invisible ocean has given you such abundance,
but still you call it “death”,
that which provides you sustenance and work.

God has allowed some magical reversal to occur,
so that you see the scorpion pit
as an object of desire,
and all the beautiful expanse around it,
as dangerous and swarming with snakes.

This is how strange your fear of death
and emptiness is, and how perverse
the attachment to what you want.

Now that you’ve heard me
on your misapprehensions, dear friend,
listen to Attar’s story on the same subject.

He strung the pearls of this
about King Mahmud, how among the spoils
of his Indian campaign there was a Hindu boy,
whom he adopted as a son. He educated
and provided royally for the boy
and later made him vice-regent, seated
on a gold throne beside himself.

One day he found the young man weeping..
“Why are you crying? You’re the companion
of an emperor! The entire nation is ranged out
before you like stars that you can command!”

The young man replied, “I am remembering
my mother and father, and how they
scared me as a child with threats of you!
‘Uh-oh, he’s headed for King Mahmud’s court!
Nothing could be more hellish!’ Where are they now
when they should see me sitting here?”

This incident is about your fear of changing.
You are the Hindu boy. Mahmud, which means
Praise to the End, is the spirit’s
poverty or emptiness.

The mother and father are your attachment
to beliefs and blood ties
and desires and comforting habits.
Don’t listen to them!
They seem to protect
but they imprison.

They are your worst enemies.
They make you afraid
of living in emptiness.

Some day you’ll weep tears of delight in that court,
remembering your mistaken parents!

Know that your body nurtures the spirit,
helps it grow, and gives it wrong advise.

The body becomes, eventually, like a vest
of chain mail in peaceful years,
too hot in summer and too cold in winter.

But the body’s desires, in another way, are like
an unpredictable associate, whom you must be
patient with. And that companion is helpful,
because patience expands your capacity
to love and feel peace.
The patience of a rose close to a thorn
keeps it fragrant. It’s patience that gives milk
to the male camel still nursing in its third year,
and patience is what the prophets show to us.

The beauty of careful sewing on a shirt
is the patience it contains.

Friendship and loyalty have patience
as the strength of their connection.

Feeling lonely and ignoble indicates
that you haven’t been patient.

Be with those who mix with God
as honey blends with milk, and say,

“Anything that comes and goes,
rises and sets, is not
what I love.” else you’ll be like a caravan fire left
to flare itself out alone beside the road.”

Rumi VI (1369-1420) from ‘Rumi : One-Handed Basket Weaving