This kind of split makes me crazy, this territorializing of the holy. Here God may dwell. Here God may not dwell. It contradicts everything in my experience, which says: God dwells where I dwell. Period.
Both faith and faithlessness have destroyed men.
Who are those who will eventually be damned? Oh, the others, the others, the others!
The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be awake, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely awake.
Faith is not a series of gilt-edged propositions that you sit down to figure out — and if you follow all the logic, and accept all the conclusions, then you have it. [Faith] is crumpling and throwing away everything, proposition by proposition, until nothing is left, and then writing a new proposition, your very own, to throw in the teeth of despair.
Life’s a tough proposition, and the first hundred years are the hardest.
If there were no other proof of the infinite patience of God, a very good one could be found in His toleration of the pictures that are painted of Him and of the noise that proceeds from musical instruments under the pretext of being in His “honor.”
An idea isn’t responsible for the people who believe in it.
The way we define and delimit the self is arbitrary. We can place it between our ears and have it looking out from our eyes, or we can widen it to include the air we breathe, or at other moments we can cast its boundaries farther to include the oxygen-giving trees and plankton, our external lungs, and beyond them the web of life in which they are sustained.
A priest friend of mine has cautioned me away from the standard God of our childhoods, who loves and guides you and then, if you are bad, roasts you: God as high-school principal in a gray suit who never remembers your name but is always leafing unhappily through your files.
God is a concept by which we measure our pain.
Some people think that they will practice the dharma once they have finished with their worldly business. This is a mistaken attitude, because our work in the world never finishes. . . . The busywork with which we fill our lives is completed only at the time of our death.
St. John of the Cross, alone in his room in profound prayer, experienced a rapturous vision of Mary. At the same moment, he heard a beggar rattling at his door for alms. He wrenched himself away and saw to the beggar’s needs. When he returned, the vision returned again, saying that at the very moment he had heard the door rattle on its hinges, his soul had hung in perilous balance. Had he not gone to the beggar’s aid, she could never have appeared to him again.
One of the annoying things about believing in free will and individual responsibility is the difficulty of finding someone to blame your troubles on. And when you do find somebody, it’s remarkable how often his picture turns up on your driver’s license.
Imagine walking along a sidewalk with your arms full of groceries, and someone roughly bumps into you so that you fall and your groceries are strewn over the ground. As you rise up from the puddle of broken eggs and tomato juice, you are ready to shout out, “You idiot! What’s wrong with you? Are you blind?” But just before you can catch your breath to speak, you see that the person who bumped into you actually is blind. He, too, is sprawled in the spilled groceries, and your anger vanishes in an instant, to be replaced by sympathetic concern: “Are you hurt? Can I help you up?” Our situation is like that. When we clearly realize that the source of disharmony and misery in the world is ignorance, we can open the door of wisdom and compassion.
That which hinders your task is your task.