Don't Halt. Don't Strain.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us” -J.R.R. Tolkien

Against all odds, we must keep learning, keep loving, and keep sharing. The challenge at hand is to carry on doing what must be done, despite the floods around us. The very first discourse in the Samyutta Nikaya tells the story of a monk asking the Buddha how he “crossed the flood”. The Buddha answers: by not halting and by not straining (SN1.1). May we find the strength to keep moving forward, and do so with an unwarranted lightness. May we understand, as Zora Neale Hurston writes:

"There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”

And holding this in our hearts - may we decide resolutely that wisdom is indeed what Meister Eckhart writes.

“Wisdom consists in doing the next thing you have to do, doing it with your whole heart, and finding delight in doing it.”

You must keep going. You must keep doing your work - and this may not coincide with what you are paid for. Your work is what tethers you to the cosmos.

“You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth. For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons, and to step out of life’s procession that marries in majesty and proud submission towards the infinite” -Khalil Gibran

Verily, we must not halt - for the world does not stand still. It’s about how you continue doing what you know you should be doing. To find the courage, one must open up a new dimension of possibilities.

“Be present as the watcher of your mind - of your thoughts and emotions as well as your reactions in various situations. Be at least as interested in your reactions as in the situation or person that causes you to react” -Eckhart Tolle

The other day I was excited to buy granola. It was sold out when I arrived.

I was gifted with a chance to notice that it wasn’t the lack of granola that led to my disappointment - but my reaction to a set of internal sensations and thoughts. By giving equal relevance to these features of reality - depth is found. Stepping outside of habitual tendencies, it is found that you are the witness of both action and re-action. This doesn’t make the situation better or remove the associated emotions - but it makes the situation more real.

Too often we are burdened by self-importance, and stuck in self-made halls of mental representation. We see ourselves as the centre of reality and the rest of the world as happening to us. Truly - you are no more a cosmic axis than a flower or a squirrel. It’s time to wake up and remember our kinship not with fellow man and beast - but with every successive moment in time. Whether meditating, standing in line, gazing at an empty shelf - remember:

“There is no enlightenment outside of daily life” Thich Nhat Hanh

Forget about sacred and mundane - seize it all with vigour. And as you prepare to carry yourself forward - take a moment to reflect. I suggest holding counsel with the trees, for they are always ready to listen.

“Be still, my heart, these great trees are prayers.” Rabindranath Tagore

It is as it is.


Continue to cherish

The Good

The Joyful

The Baffling

The Contemplative

The Musical