I spent a beautiful morning walking along the stunning Antrim coastline: beginning at the Giant’s Causeway and ending at Dunseverick Castle. The castle is an ancient royal site of the Dál Riada, a Gaelic kingdom from at least the 5th century AD. Saint Patrick is recorded as having visited the site, where he baptized Olcán, a local man who later became a Bishop of Ireland. The castle was captured and destroyed by General Robert Munro in 1642, and his Cromwellian troops in the 1650s, with only the ruins of the gate lodge remaining. The northern area contains an oval depression of wet ground which is thought to be a holy well, known as Saint Patrick’s Well.
As I explored this desolate and ancient site, I discovered a lone Hawthorne tree. In Ireland, the Hawthorn is synonymous with the ‘Sidhe’ or Fairies. From the times of the druids the tree was highly valued as a source of medicinal remedies. The flowers, leaves, and berries were used to treat conditions of the heart, and lower blood pressure.
Certain hawthorn trees, especially those associated with Holy Wells, are known as “Rag Trees” or “Wishing Trees”. Historically, cloth strips taken from the clothing of an ill person were tied to the branches of the tree as a petition to a local saint or deity. Local people also tie strips of colourful cloth to the wishing tree as a symbol of their prayers or wishes. These items are known as clotties. It was an honour to come upon this beautiful and sacred offering. #JoyBlogging
“Those who train wholeheartedly in awakening bodhichitta are called bodhisattvas or warriors—not warriors who kill but warriors of nonaggression who hear the cries of the world. Warrior-bodhisattvas enter challenging situations in order to alleviate suffering. They are willing to cut through personal reactivity and self-deception. They are dedicated to uncovering the basic, undistorted energy of bodhichitta.”
“Be drawn to the mystery and magnificence of the universe. Be awed by the beauty and splendour of this earth we live upon. Hold sacred, pay homage, and bear witness to the everyday wonders of life. Honour what has passed before us. Hope that what is ahead fulfills our destiny, and your journey will have meaning and purpose and your stay here will have counted for something. Your eyes may be small but what they see is enormous. Look straight ahead at life and do not flinch.” ~ “Dadisms”, Jackson, Salt Spring Island, Spring 2017.
“We’re not doomed in any way because whatever happens, we can begin, right now, to do our very best. There’s always something small we can do to alter our habitual response, even a little bit. It could be taking a few conscious breaths, or stepping back for a moment, or walking around the block to change the energy. It could be anything, as long as it interrupts the process of escalating our suffering in the exact same habitual way, over and over and over.”
~ Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World, by Pema Chödrön,
“…the future is not one thing. So many possibilities can arise as a result of intelligence, education, curiosity and hard work. No one ever told me that and I’m sorry it took this long for me to figure it out.” ~ Ann Patchett
“Now. That’s the key. Now, now, now. Mindfulness trains you to be awake and alive, fully curious, about what? Well, about now, right? You sit in meditation and the out-breath is now and waking up from your fantasies is now and even the fantasies are now, although they seem to take you into the past and into the future. The more you can be completely now, the more you realize that you’re in the center of the world, standing in the middle of a sacred circle.”
“Can you learn to surf the chaos and uncertainty that real life includes without falling into a trance of unworthiness? You can. A surfer is powerless to change the towering wave rushing toward her. But she doesn’t want to change it. She wants to surf it and she learns to feel safe in the immense ocean of being even when she falls. She confidently gets right back up to meet the next wave.”
Excerpted from: Zen in the Age of Anxiety: Wisdom for Navigating Our Modern Lives, by Tim Burkett, page 31
“Status quo is not very helpful for spiritual growth, for using this short interval between birth and death. On the other hand, expanding our ability to feel comfortable in our own skin and in the world, so that we can be there as much as possible for other people, is a very worthy way to spend a human life.”
Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World by Pema Chödrön
“If you make happiness your primary goal, you might miss out on the challenges that give life meaning. ..Bringing good things into your life, whether love, career success, or something else, usually involves risk. Risk doesn’t necessarily make us happy, and a risky life is going to bring disappointment. But it can also bring bigger rewards than a life played safe, as the study of happiness, academic achievement, and income suggests. Those with the highest performance at work and school made decisions that were probably unpleasant at times, and even scary…
As with everything in life, happiness has its trade-offs. Pursuing happiness to the exclusion of other goals–known as psychological hedonism–is not only an exercise in futility. It may also give you a life that you find you don’t want, one in which you don’t reach your full potential, you’re reluctant to take risks, and you choose fleeting pleasures over challenging experiences that give life meaning.”
“How to Build a Life” is a weekly column by Arthur Brooks, tackling questions of meaning and happiness.
“People often say, ‘Meditation is all very well, but what does it have to do with my life?’ What it has to do with your life is that perhaps through this simple practice of paying attention—giving loving-kindness to your speech and your actions and the movements of your mind—you begin to realize that you’re always standing in the middle of a sacred circle, and that’s your whole life. This room is not the sacred circle. Gampo Abbey is not the sacred circle. Wherever you go for the rest of your life, you’re always in the middle of the universe and the circle is always around you. Everyone who walks up to you has entered that sacred space, and it’s not an accident. Whatever comes into the space is there to teach you.”
Awakening Loving-Kindness by Pema Chödrön, page 54